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Bacteriapocalypse

Article #217 • Written by Alan Bellows

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About two and one-half billion years ago, life on Earth was still in its infancy. Complex organisms such as plants and animals had not yet appeared, but the planet was teeming with microscopic bacteria which thrived in the temperate and nutrient-rich environment. Greenhouse methane lingered in the atmosphere and trapped the sun's warmth, creating a climate very accommodating to the stew of microbes life that made their home on primitive Earth.

But a billion years of bacterial evolutionary progress was soon stunted by a catastrophic global event. Geologists find no signs of a great meteor impact nor a volcanic eruption, but they have uncovered the unmistakable geologic scars of rapid worldwide climate change. Average temperatures, which were previously comparable to our present climate, plummeted to minus 50 degrees Celsius and brought the planet into its first major ice age. This environmental shift triggered a massive die-off which threatened to extinguish all life on Earth, and paleoclimatologists have good reason to believe that this world-changing event was unwittingly caused by some of the planet's own humble residents: bacteria.

The period in history is known as the Paleoproterozoic era, and prior to that time the Earth's ecology and environment were significantly different. The iron-rich waters of the oceans lent them a green tint, and the atmosphere was made up of gasses other than oxygen. Although oxygen atoms were abundant, such as those found in water molecules, unbound oxygen was extremely rare. The sea was host to a plethora of anaerobic microorganisms, but there were also a few members of a newly evolved variety: a blue-green algae known as cyanobacteria. These adapted bacteria were the first to use water and sunlight for photosynthesis, producing oxygen as a by-product of their metabolism.

The cyanobacteria were a struggling minority at first, but scientists believe that these new microbes began to dominate with the help of meltwater from a few glaciers scattered across the young continents. These glaciers spent centuries scraping across the Earth collecting minerals, ultimately depositing their rich nutrient payloads into the oceans. The cyanobacteria flourished in the presence of the increased minerals, and the rapidly growing population was soon venting increasingly large amounts of its poisonous waste oxygen into the environment.

At first the damage was limited to the oceans' ecosystems. The underwater oxygen began to chemically react with the abundant iron, eventually scrubbing the seas clean of the element through oxidation. The oxidized iron settled to the ocean floor, and the oceans' green tint began to fade. This series of developments was nothing short of an ecological disaster-- oxygen was poisonous to most of primitive Earth's inhabitants, and many bacteria relied on the iron as a nutrient.

Once the oceans' supply of iron was exhausted, oxygen began to seep from the sea into the air. With very little competition for resources, cyanobacteria continued to proliferate and pollute. The free oxygen they produced reacted with the air, gradually breaking down the methane which kept the Earth's atmosphere warm and accommodating. It took at least a hundred thousand years-- a short duration in geological terms-- but the Earth was eventually stripped of her methane, and with it her ability to store the heat from the sun. Temperatures fell well below freezing worldwide, and a thick layer of ice began to encase the oxygen-saturated planet.

Not even cyanobacteria were immune to the effects of this major ice age. The traits which had once given them such an evolutionary advantage were creating an environment which was completely inhospitable, even for themselves. As the centuries marched on, the surface became increasingly cold and frozen, with the ice at the equator eventually reaching up to one mile in thickness: Earth was an ice planet. Thermal vents on the ocean floor provided pockets where some resilient bacteria managed to survive, and certain organisms which lived underground were insulated from much of the destruction; but these reservoirs of life were scarce. Almost every living thing on Earth died as a result of this massive bacteria-induced climate change, an event known as the oxygen catastrophe.

As told by the Earth's ancient rocks, the story of the Paleoproterozoic era is one of near-extinction for all life on the planet. The rocks that lined the ocean floor during that period are layered with oxidized iron... the remains of the iron that was removed by the oxygen. Layers from previous periods have no such banded iron formations. The fossilized microbes in the rocks are also indicative of violent climate change.

The survivors of the oxygen catastrophe eventually adapted to consume the abundant oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. This greenhouse gas very gradually made its way into the atmosphere, increasing in concentration and nudging temperatures back into the hospitable range over millions of years. Had temperatures been slightly colder during the first major ice age-- if Earth had been in a slightly more distant orbit-- the planet would have remained an icy wasteland because the carbon dioxide would have frozen solid before it could promote the greenhouse effect.

Banded iron formation, caused by layers of oxidized iron
Banded iron formation, caused by layers of oxidized iron

Temperatures reached as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius, and carbon dioxide freezes into dry ice at minus 78 degrees. Indeed it seems that life on Earth was spared by a very tiny margin.

Today all life on the planet can trace its lineage back to those few microorganisms which survived the great dying of 2,500,000,000 BC, and now cyanobacteria are among the most common bacteria on Earth. In the billions of years since the first ice age, the environment has been dramatically altered on numerous occasions by greenhouse gases which trap heat; by shifting tectonic plates which reroute ocean currents; by our sun's varying radiation levels; and by volcanic activity which alters the atmosphere. But at least once in Earth's long history, its own occupants seem to have unwittingly brought all life to the brink of extinction. The sun is warmer now than it was then, so such a "Snowball Earth" is a bit less likely to occur... but the cautionary tale catalogued in ancient rocks warns us that the environment is certainly not impervious to the actions of those living in it.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 08 September 2006. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows.
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163 Comments
interested_fanatic
Posted 08 September 2006 at 01:43 pm

whoah... thats DAMN INTERESTING
and whoah... FIRST POST
but seriously... wow... thats really cool


eyesaid
Posted 08 September 2006 at 01:54 pm

woowho!
second and damn interesting eye might add.


RichVR
Posted 08 September 2006 at 01:58 pm

Pardon my ignorance, but...

If all of the surviving bacteria was trapped under a thick sheet of ice, how did the newly created carbon dioxide get into the atmosphere at all?


opiumbrl
Posted 08 September 2006 at 02:21 pm

And so someone once said that the meek shall inherit the Earth. Or maybe just about destroy everything that ever was.... Pesky little things bacteria are.


Sjors
Posted 08 September 2006 at 02:39 pm

RichVR said: "If all of the surviving bacteria was trapped under a thick sheet of ice, how did the newly created carbon dioxide get into the atmosphere at all?"

Perhaps because some of them lived above the ice sheet, or the ice at the equator melted every several hundred thousand years at a few spots.


Shandooga
Posted 08 September 2006 at 03:35 pm

Never happened. There never was an ice age either. Stop with the crazy pseudo-scientific fantasies. There never was a neanderthal. Darwin was wrong and everything based on his brilliant mastery of the obvious is wrong too. There, I said it.


Secret Ninja
Posted 08 September 2006 at 04:42 pm

Hooray for zealous and ignorant religious folks...

And if you were joking, good one!


leooel
Posted 08 September 2006 at 04:44 pm

RichVR said: "Pardon my ignorance, but…

If all of the surviving bacteria was trapped under a thick sheet of ice, how did the newly created carbon dioxide get into the atmosphere at all?"

I would imagine that a decent volcanic eruption might melt a hole in the ice for a while at least.


etonalife
Posted 08 September 2006 at 06:02 pm

RichVR said:
If all of the surviving bacteria was trapped under a thick sheet of ice, how did the newly created carbon dioxide get into the atmosphere at all?"

The Earth was much more volatile back then. It is quite likely that volcanic eruptions were more frequent, especially considering the earth was made up of many more smaller tectonic plates which were constently shifting due to internal convection cells. The frequency of eruptions would likely produce enough greenhouse gas for several bouts of slightly warmers periods, in which the bacteria may reproduce. Knowing the resilience of bacteria, they may have proliferated underneath the ice, as they do in the Antarctic today (where light still penetrates the ice), excreting their gas which could make its way up to the surface whenever a fissure in the massive glaciers appeared. I suppose it wouldn't be too far fetched to give credit to the gravitational pull of the moon, which is moving away from the Earth several inches every year and was much closer to the planet during this episode of planetwide glaciation. The tidal pull could have perhaps increased the amount of ice fissures where the ice was already structurally compromised.

Fascinating altogether!


Iscariot
Posted 08 September 2006 at 06:23 pm

Damn interesting.


Crispy
Posted 08 September 2006 at 07:32 pm

Indeed. A good start to DI's second year!

Shandooga said: "Never happened. There never was an ice age either. Stop with the crazy pseudo-scientific fantasies. There never was a neanderthal. Darwin was wrong and everything based on his brilliant mastery of the obvious is wrong too. There, I said it."

Haha, good one. Thanks for the laugh!


Illustrator
Posted 08 September 2006 at 10:19 pm

Very interesting. The mile high ice sheet at the equator
caught my eye. I read somewhere, I know it wasn't
the bible, that the north american shield was once
covered with an ice sheet 5-10 miles in height.

Oh and the Ice Age certainly did happen, & there's
a part 2, I saw it last night at my nephew's birthday
party. Part 1 is better.


SparkyTWP
Posted 08 September 2006 at 10:33 pm

Take THAT methane-breathing, iron-eating bacteria. I guess we really showed them who rules this place.

Who's next?


Misfit
Posted 08 September 2006 at 11:54 pm

First of all, that was absolutely fascinating.

Second of all, I am quite religious AND I believe every word in this article. The truly faithful know that science and God do not clash. (and no, I don't want this to sound like I am preaching here, merely defending myself) I for one, believe that science is good for revealing more of how God really works.

Now then, back to the article. I have a few QUESTIONS.

Numero Uno: Are there any of those original iron-munching bacteria around today? If so, where?

Numba Two: Was this the time period in which Pangea, the single first continent, was around?

Number Three: What were the first organisms to begin feeding off of this oxygen waste? What bacteria 'saved the day?'


Drakvil
Posted 09 September 2006 at 12:14 am

Wow, Alan, truly DI!

Imagine if the cyanobacteria hadn't come along... we would all be methane-breathers now and iron deficiency would have a completely different meaning in medical terms.

I wonder if we could engineer a bacteria that consumed sulfur and emitted oxygen, as well as withstand 500 C temperatures? That would be the only way that we could get Venus terraformed. Aside from the greenhouse gasses that keep the temperature in that range year-round even at the poles, Venus is about the same size and composition as the Earth... and it's a lot closer to us than Mars. We could get the whole process started by sending a few seeding probes and then work on designing some sturdy mass-transit ships to get people there during the thousand years it would take to do the job.

Of course, by then we would probably have the ability to modify people so they could withstand higher temperatures and the high sulfur levels (without pinching their noses).


GeneMosher
Posted 09 September 2006 at 05:21 am

Life had been on Earth for a very long time before the differentiation between plants and animals began. Plants and animals share this common ancestor life form. Life on Earth, including singular cell life and the most complex cell life, is based upon and exhibits metabolism, therefore plants and animals share (i.e., have common) metabolic properties traceable back 2.5 billion years.
-------------
The metabolic imperative of cell life is such that the cell detects an extracellular 'body' and goes to 'red alert', allows the extracellular body to enter the cell (is ingested), is digested, the resultant waste is expelled from the cell and the 'red alert' is cancelled. This is exhibited in the most complex cell life, too - eating, digesting and pooping - and the chain of events, including the need for 'red alert' remains a metabolic imperative. Another metabolic imperative of cell life is that it periodically enters 'red alert' and reproduces, after which 'red alert' is cancelled. It's a metabolic imperative and it is exhibited by single cell life and the most complex multi-cell life.
---------------
In metabolic terms the red alert is a period of catabolic activity - energy the cell has stored is torn down and used as fuel for red alert activities, ingesting, digesting, expelling waste, reproducing. Red alert activities have to be limited. They are necessary but they cannot continue indefinitely without destroying the cell - it must shift its metabolism back to an anabolic state - one where the useful 'nutrients' that have been stripped from the foreign body are used to repair damage to the cell, allow it to grow and allow it to become strengthened, in preparation for the next inevitable red alert requirement. Each cellular organism, simple and complex, is a metabolic balance throughout its existence of anabolic and catabolic life processes. A cell that would forego the metabolically destructive (catabolic) period of red alert would starve, drown in its own waste and never reproduce. A cell that would forego the metabolically constructive (anabolic) period would never heal, never grow, never become strong enough to enter red alert.
---------
Red Alert is a metabolic imperative for every cell, for every cellular life form. The success of each cellular life form in its time of red alert depends upon the strength it has built during its 'down time' leading up to red alert, its ability to find and ingest the most nutritive foreign bodies to ingest, its ability to rid itself of waste and its ability to efficiently reproduce. It has to resist threats by other life forms and if it has been damaged by other life forms it has to be successful in repairing that damage. It cannot do this during red alert - it can only do it in its 'down time'. The consequence of failing at this is death. All cellular life is bound by the need for a balance of metabolic imperatives.
----------------
The anabolic aspect of the metabolic imperative is known to us as sleep. The catabolic aspect of the metabolic imperative is known to us as being awake. This is why we sleep and this is why we wake up. If we sleep all the time we starve and fail to reproduce. If we awake all the time we cannot heal, cannot grow, cannot strengthen and self destruct. It's the metabolic imperative that rules all cellular life, from single cell to complex cell life. And it's as old as the most primitive cell life on this planet.
---------------
Thanks for the inspiration, Alan.


Chris
Posted 09 September 2006 at 06:22 am

2,500,000,000 BC??!! Amazing. That biiiilllllions. (as Carl Sagan said) Most interesting, Alan. Actually, this does qualify as "Damnier Interesting!"


cowdoc
Posted 09 September 2006 at 08:06 am

Iron eating bacteria are still common. Some live in the iron pipes that carry your drinking water.


Credhawk
Posted 09 September 2006 at 08:59 am

Why do "scientific" people always say that people who disagree with them are "ignorant?" I suppose "ignorant" means ignoring something. Is it possible that some scientific types are ignoring something, or Someone?


castlerk53
Posted 09 September 2006 at 12:32 pm

Absolutely fascinating garbage. Someone else's guesstimate for the billions of years of earth history. Totally UNinteresting.


Dave Group
Posted 09 September 2006 at 01:00 pm

Very cool article. Looking at Earth's past, it seems that nearly all life gets wiped out on a periodic basis by some major disaster. It's like this planet has a giant KICK ME sign on it or something. We could be the nerds of the galaxy.


SparkyTWP
Posted 09 September 2006 at 01:49 pm

Credhawk said: "Why do "scientific" people always say that people who disagree with them are "ignorant?" I suppose "ignorant" means ignoring something. Is it possible that some scientific types are ignoring something, or Someone?"

It is because, most of the time, the people disagreeing with them are trying to use a ~1500 year old book as a science text, or something else that is not based on the scientific method.

As a counterexample, I will use cosmology. Currently, there is a lot of debate and disagreement about the nature/existance of dark matter. No one in this debate is saying the other is ignorant. They all have access to the same data, they are just interpreting it differently.This is how science is supposed to work. Everyone has an idea, and they try their best to prove/disprove that their hypothesis. Eventually the experiments will prove one correct, or it could disprove them all entirely and a new theory will have to be created.

If someone goes up to a scientist and tells them all the theories are wrong, without giving any evidence or facts that are based in science, of course the guy is going to ignore them.


Chory
Posted 09 September 2006 at 03:15 pm

I like what Misfit said. I personally am totally un-religious, but that's me. There was someone... I want to say Galileo... who was imprisoned on charges of heresy for talking about the galaxy in a different way than the Church like him to. I believe he said something like "Science is not going against God, but merely exploring that which He has created." Something like that.


wh44
Posted 09 September 2006 at 03:36 pm

Shandooga, Credhawk, castlerk53:

You claim that this is untrue, garbage, and uninteresting. In doing so, you are ignoring the facts on record (in this case iron deposits, bacterial fossils, etc. mentioned in the article), hence some people will call you ignorant.

If you want people to stop calling you ignorant, then don't criticize a theory until you come up with a better, more plausible explanation for the facts. Even without the interpretation, these fact, are Damn Interesting and I find the interpretation given here quite plausible.


Bolens
Posted 09 September 2006 at 04:11 pm

Great article Alan!

And just a thought for anyone grasping white-knuckled onto their "old earth" (or "young earth") theories: Could not an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Entity create an earth as "old" as the Entity desired? Seems like it would be a simple matter for said Being.


Sen.McCarthy
Posted 09 September 2006 at 07:30 pm

An article well worth my time to read, nicely done. And wh44, I'm pretty sure Shandooga was kidding when you look at his wording.


Inconnu
Posted 09 September 2006 at 08:45 pm

Bolens said: "Great article Alan!

And just a thought for anyone grasping white-knuckled onto their "old earth" (or "young earth") theories: Could not an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Entity create an earth as "old" as the Entity desired? Seems like it would be a simple matter for said Being."

That would make said Being a deceiver.


live8evil
Posted 09 September 2006 at 09:04 pm

Misfit said: "First of all, that was absolutely fascinating.


Second of all, I am quite religious AND I believe every word in this article. The truly faithful know that science and God do not clash. (and no, I don't want this to sound like I am preaching here, merely defending myself) I for one, believe that science is good for revealing more of how God really works.'"

But how can you be truly faithful, and truly believe in god if you don't believe every religious concept? The bible is supposed to be god's ideas right? So are you saying he is wrong? Lying?

What I'm saying is that you can't just choose what parts of religion to believe, 'cause then you clearly don't completely believe in it.

I'm not religious.


vagrantsoul
Posted 09 September 2006 at 09:23 pm

live8evil said: "But how can you be truly faithful, and truly believe in god if you don't believe every religious concept? The bible is supposed to be god's ideas right? So are you saying he is wrong? Lying?

What I'm saying is that you can't just choose what parts of religion to believe, ’cause then you clearly don't completely believe in it.

I'm not religious."

God inspired the Word, but humans wrote it, and as we all know, humans make mistakes or often have their own interests.

And religion, or Christianity in this case since you refer to the Bible specifically, doesn't require you to believe in a book. It requires that you believe Jesus died and rose again for our sins.

You're obviously not religious.

Good article, by the way.


just_dave
Posted 09 September 2006 at 09:40 pm

Chory said: "I like what Misfit said. I personally am totally un-religious, but that's me. There was someone… I want to say Galileo… who was imprisoned on charges of heresy for talking about the galaxy in a different way than the Church like him to. I believe he said something like "Science is not going against God, but merely exploring that which He has created." Something like that."

Early on, that was the goal of science; to explain the wonders of God's creation. But the problem as I see it with modern science is that most who practice it make a point of trying to explain God out of the equation entirely. It seems that every theory must explain everything with naturalistic causes, no matter how implausible the steps involved may appear. In many cases, like what is described in this article and anything else that involves theories that are thoroughly untestable and unprovable, the theory comes across as totally impossible; impossible that is without some sort of outside intervention.

What is truly amazing is that one can put the most fantastic story, like this one, call it a "theory", throw in a pile of scientific-sounding mumbo-jumbo, and people will read it and say things like, "whoah… thats DAMN INTERESTING!" But let someone say anything that calls said theory into question, and labels like "ignorant" start flying. Let them say that God created all that is, and did it in a way that can't be explained through "scientific means" and labels like "religious fanatic" start flying. Is it really any more of a stretch to believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator and Sustainer than to believe that all that is came to be by blind chance? Given the complexity of all that exists today, the former is by far the more likely.

And anyone with any standing at all in the scientific community had better not stand up and question theories like this, lest he end up like poor Galileo. Questioning almighty Evolution is the true blasphemy of the modern day, and the science community seems to be the modern day incarnation of Rome, as it was in Galileo's day.

Oh, what's also damn interesting is that a theory like this will come up to explain a purported ice age, brought about without the influence of humans. Yet let the climate supposedly warm up by a degree or so over the last several hundred years, and it's all our fault. How does that work?


Vivendi
Posted 09 September 2006 at 09:44 pm

DI article Alan. However, the Vredefort crater did occur during this era (but after the rise in O2 levels), probably the largest impact crater on Earth. The crater, along with the cyanobacteria probably caused the ice age, I'm unsure about which contributed the most.

There are a type of bacteria, obligate anaerobics, that will die in the presence of O2. Before the massive increase in O2 levels on Earth, almost all life used anaerobic respiration, thus the rise in O2 levels was deadly to most (especially to the obligates). These bacteria still exist today in many places, one place I can think of right away is in our intestines.

It's not so much the absence of iron but the presence of O2 that killed the obligates in the ocean. O2- (superoxide) is deadly to life but nowdays, most cells have enzymes that neutral the anion. Obligate anaeobics however do not have these enzymes.


Vivendi
Posted 09 September 2006 at 10:10 pm

just_dave said: "Oh, what's also damn interesting is that a theory like this will come up to explain a purported ice age, brought about without the influence of humans. Yet let the climate supposedly warm up by a degree or so over the last several hundred years, and it's all our fault. How does that work?"

I don't think see how that has anything to do with the article but here it goes...

First of all, the article never said the ice age occured overnight, it happened over a large span of time. 1C per century means 10C/1000years... get what I mean... And the rise in temp. is linear, it's exponential because of positive feedback. Higher temperatures means more more CO2 and H2O in the atmosphere which both cause a further rise in temperatures. And before you it, we could have a Venus II.

Secondly, because right now it's NOT being caused because of the absence of methane conc. but the opposite of that, an increase in CO2 concentrations (fact). And we know why CO2 concentrations are rising today.


just_dave
Posted 09 September 2006 at 11:01 pm

Vivendi said: "And we know why CO2 concentrations are rising today."

Oh do we?

---------------------------------------

Inconnu said: "That would make said Being a deceiver."

If a scientist's work leads him to an incorrect conclusion, that doesn't mean anyone has been decieved. Except perhaps by himself, his colleagues, and his predecessors, because he started with incorrect assumptions.


Drakvil
Posted 09 September 2006 at 11:30 pm

just_dave said: "Early on, that was the goal of science; to explain the wonders of God's creation. But the problem as I see it with modern science is that most who practice it make a point of trying to explain God out of the equation entirely. It seems that every theory must explain everything with naturalistic causes, no matter how implausible the steps involved may appear.

What's more implausible: finding a working mechanism that will produce an event and leave evidence for us that it did happen that way, or just giving up trying to understand how the world God put us in works and accept the answer to all questions about the world as being "because God made it that way."? We cannot test anything that resolves to "God did it". We can test for things that resolve to "using the physical world that God created, this could have done that and we have evidence that suggests it did." You're misinterpreting science in general when you say that God is being written out of it - the phrase "God did it" is being replaced with something akin to "God did it with a hammer, and we have a scuff mark to prove a hammer was used." Science is just trying to minimize the number of things sitting in the box marked "God did it" and move them to boxes with a more complete description.

What is truly amazing is that one can put the most fantastic story, like this one, call it a "theory", throw in a pile of scientific-sounding mumbo-jumbo, and people will read it and say things like, "whoah… thats DAMN INTERESTING!" .... Is it really any more of a stretch to believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator and Sustainer than to believe that all that is came to be by blind chance? Given the complexity of all that exists today, the former is by far the more likely.

Why do you insist that what science has uncovered is a denial of God? True, there are some scientists that don't believe in Him, but many more that do. They just accept that they are discovering the methods by which He accomplished his task. And if you do acknowledge that He started all the stuff in motion that makes up our universe today, you have to believe that he would know the outcome of all the interactions involved and tweak the initial conditions to produce what He wants to arrive at the end within the boundaries of what can be expected with free will. There isn't a credible scientist alive that thinks we will ever know what went on before the Big Bang, and what occured then falls squarely inside the box labeled "God did it."

And anyone with any standing at all in the scientific community had better not stand up and question theories like this, lest he end up like poor Galileo. Questioning almighty Evolution is the true blasphemy of the modern day, and the science community seems to be the modern day incarnation of Rome, as it was in Galileo's day.

Wow, what clouded thinking. Galileo was put under house arrest by the pope for the rest of his life for providing proof that the Earth revolved around the Sun, and while this didn't contradict the bible it did contradict the current teachings of the church at the time. So he suffered for many years for making the idiot in the pointy hat look silly by providing mathematical proof of something that everyone today knows is true and accepts without having a crisis situation with their faith. The real blasphemy of today is when you are presented with facts and evidence, you throw it out the window in favor of what some pope decided sounded good to him 1800 years ago based on 200th generation hearsay. (you know how stuff in the telephone game gets after 15 steps... but fallible human preachers who are trying to keep control of their followers by using that hearsay and emphasizing what they feel most important?)

Oh, what's also damn interesting is that a theory like this will come up to explain a purported ice age, brought about without the influence of humans. Yet let the climate supposedly warm up by a degree or so over the last several hundred years, and it's all our fault. How does that work?"

The reason they are saying that the latest global climate change is due to man is that we are using things other than natural processes. For the last hundred thousand years plus man lived just like all the other animals did... picking food from trees and bushes and killing animals and eating them. We even learned to harness fire, and fires occur in nature all the time, to cook our food. Within the last 5000 years we have been creating machines and complex tools, which no other animal on Earth does, that will create by-products that are either not produced by naturally occuring processes or in quantities that exceed those of natural processes. An example would be burning oil... there is no natural process that will refine and burn millions of barrels of oil a day and spout the by-products into the air. Is there a natural process that will replace hundreds of square miles of vegetation a year with roads and parking lots and Wal-Marts? Yet how many machines that man has made have you seen this week contributing to just that? (cars, factories, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, power plants, airplanes, Paris Hilton...) I have seen people object to treating man as separate from all other animals on Earth, but the reason for that is that man is doing things in large amounts that no other animals on Earth are doing or are capable of.


Vivendi
Posted 10 September 2006 at 12:37 am

just_dave said: "Oh do we? "

Is that all you could come up for an argument. Why am I so surprised???
Drakvil already answered your question so no need for me repeat his words.

PS: GJ Drakvil, you put it into much better words than me.


HunterKiller_
Posted 10 September 2006 at 01:48 am

Good article. I found it slightly humourous reading the parts about oxygen being poisonous since it's what makes life tick on Earth now.


HarleyHetz
Posted 10 September 2006 at 04:30 am

Nicely said Drakvil, and to those who apparently don't know...ignorance is simply a "lack of knowledge" it doens't mean to "ignore" anything. So, that being said, the word "ignorant" is not an insult, it is more correctly a description. For example, if I say you are ignorant, it does not mean you are "stupid", it simply means that you haven't "learned", or you have a "lack of knowledge" about the subject at hand.

That being said, DI article Alan, very nicely presented.

Now, since we learned that cyanobacteria is essentially responsible for creating the oxygen that we breathe today, I say we all go out and hug a bacteria immediately!!


1c3d0g
Posted 10 September 2006 at 04:41 am

Oxygen *is* poisonous. That's why no living being can sustain life forever, it slowly but surely corrodes whatever you have for a breathing system (in our case, the lungs).

Vagrantsoul: well said.


A-Train72
Posted 10 September 2006 at 06:43 am

So what your saying is that the earth was frozen, then it slowly heated up naturally to melt away the ice?

Gee..... maybe global warming is a natural thing. Pay attention Al Gore.


Sen.McCarthy
Posted 10 September 2006 at 07:43 am

Just_Dave is forgetting that what he is using right now (computer) was created by a bunch of scientist "mumbo-jumbo" and is being powered by a bunch of scientist "mumbo-jumbo," and that he might as well kiss hospitals goodbye, because they are havens for scientist "mumbo-jumbo." Maybe if you don't like science, which is mostly a series of equations and applying them to life and curing our insatiable curiosity, then you should just go beg the Amish to let you into their society.

I'm personally not religious, but I have no problem with those who are religious as long as they take a glance outside of the bible every once in a while. I do, however, have a problem with those that ridicule others solely on their beliefs, atheist or not. If you are making a positive contribution to the human race, then I support whatever you believe in.


Deo
Posted 10 September 2006 at 09:11 am

Damn Interesting, there should be more of this kind of articles, about earths history...


azngeek714
Posted 10 September 2006 at 10:17 am

Science and religion, fighting in the playground again...

Great article.


Byrden
Posted 10 September 2006 at 11:45 am

Just_Dave:

>> "the problem as I see it with modern science is that most who practice it make a point of
>> trying to explain God out of the equation entirely. It seems that every theory must explain
>> everything with naturalistic causes"

Well, Dave, let me explain. This goes back to the definition of the word 'science'.

The word 'science' can be defined as "studying nature". A scientist puts his/her faith in the natural world and ONLY the natural world.

He doesn't trust other people. This is why scientific papers have to explain exactly how they got their results, and they are reviewed, and other scientists try the same experiments. They don't trust each other. They trust only Nature. They certainly don't trust Darwin - his claims have been tested perhaps more than any others.

Now, the only way to get information out of Nature, is to experiment. But you can't experiment with anyone who KNOWS they're under test. For this reason, tests on human beings are difficult to run. Often, the humans have to be unaware of what the test is about.

And - this is important - tests on a God are TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE. The God knows exactly what you are doing. The God can cause miracles, fake the results, make you think anything He wants.

So a God, by the very definition of Gods, cannot be part of Science. They're not saying he does not exist; they're saying they cannot study him, understand him, or make him part of a scientific theory.

The end.


plowshare
Posted 10 September 2006 at 06:09 pm

I have long been familiar with everything in this story except the great ice age it describes.

Where is the evidence for it? The Wikipedia entry linked makes no mention of it.

Scientific American published an article in 2001 about the great ice age just before the Cambrian era. It covered the earth several times according to the article, and each time
the carbon dioxide accumulated through volcanic explosions put an end to earth's ice cover. I do not recall it saying anything about earlier ice ages and, in fact, it seemed to conclude that it was only then that the carbon dioxide reached a low enough level to produce a global ice age.


Misfit
Posted 10 September 2006 at 06:31 pm

Live8evil, first of all, I am not going against what the Bible has been saying. Who knows how long a day is for God?

I have recently (last night) discovered a couple of very interesting videos (they are separated halves of the same vido) it is half an hour long, and it very simply represents both sides of the God argument from a scientific standpoint. It is REALLY well done, and absolutely fascinating. Here are the links:

http://www.2flashgames.com/f/f-Law-of-Nature-3100.htm
http://www.2flashgames.com/f/f-Law-of-Nature-2-3110.htm

As for more questions I have about the article...

It was said that the organisms prior to the ones that gave off oxygen gave off methane. To my knowledge, both are highly flammable, and I was taught that oxygen has a high value of explosive properties, as well. wouldn't that make it so that any flame from a volcano (or anything else for that matter) be much much more... mmm shall I say, potent? Or would those factors have such little influence as to... barely have any influence?


another viewpoint
Posted 10 September 2006 at 06:45 pm

A-Train72 said: "So what your saying is that the earth was frozen, then it slowly heated up naturally to melt away the ice?

Gee….. maybe global warming is a natural thing. Pay attention Al Gore."

...I wouldn't be so quick to blame Al Gore...in particular, when there 535+ more bozo's on capitol hill that believe they can legislate science...when so many of them have legal backgrounds (btw...let's not categorize "politcal science" as a legitimate science field either). Leave the science to scientists and let your legislators do something to buy hammers and toilet seats at "reasonable" prices.

But you're right...humans may impact their environment, but probably so little compared to the forces of nature that it's not worth arguing about. Remember...IT'S NOT NICE TO FOOL MOTHER NATURE!


choctaw bob
Posted 10 September 2006 at 07:23 pm

A true believer of the inerrancy of the Bible believes that the world is flat!
http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/febible.htm

To accept that the world is round is to accept evolution also.


etonalife
Posted 10 September 2006 at 07:35 pm

plowshare said: "I have long been familiar with everything in this story except the great ice age it describes.
Where is the evidence for it? The Wikipedia entry linked makes no mention of it."

Here is a link to the Snowball Earth theories.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowball_earth

Please remember that these theories are really quite recent (It's only been 50 some year since tectonics have been accepted - Who will deny plate motion these days?). And also, please remember that these theories are simply theories - which are created by the people actually studying the time periods or locations. Would it make any sense for a geologist to question what his doctor says about influenza? If you don't believe the scientists, do not badger them unless you are able to provide an alternative (that actually is reasonable) with the data. And no, books are not data. Rocks are data.

I am a geologist, and have never in my life found it easy to believe in an Almighty. However, the more learn about this strange world, the more I am in sheer awe.


Inconnu
Posted 10 September 2006 at 07:41 pm

just_dave said:
If a scientist's work leads him to an incorrect conclusion, that doesn't mean anyone has been decieved. Except perhaps by himself, his colleagues, and his predecessors, because he started with incorrect assumptions.

I don't see the relevance of your point. The work of a scientist has little, if anything, to do with the philosophical/theological question of a deity creating a universe to 'look' a certain age. Considering that there would be no natural evidence to prove that this 'event' happened.


HiEv
Posted 10 September 2006 at 09:35 pm

Sen.McCarthy said: "And wh44, I'm pretty sure Shandooga was kidding when you look at his wording."

Sadly, he isn't. Shandooga, just_dave, and a few others regularly post "nuh-uh"-type responses to anything that appears to contradict their creationist views. I don't know why they think it's convincing when they claim that many of the things we know based on a wide variety of evidence are actually wrong and that they're right because... uh... well, because they say so and/or it contradicts their interpretation of the Bible, but they keep doing it.

Sometimes I wonder if they think that DI stands for "Discovery Institute" instead of "Damn Interesting." ;-)

Anyways, science is not an opinion, and they don't seem to understand that. Generally speaking, science is a marshaling of evidence to form a hypothesis, which is then tested to see if it makes valid predictions and/or can be falsified. If a hypothesis makes poor predictions or is falsified then it is either modified, discarded, or only used in specific situations where it does work well and is simpler than other methods. If a hypothesis makes no testable predictions and cannot ever be falsified, then it is essentially useless and is not good science. If a hypothesis stands up well to testing then it becomes a scientific theory.

If these creationists think a hypothesis or theory is wrong, then they simply need to show scientific evidence that contradicts it. However, their reasons for saying these things are wrong aren't scientific, it's because they have their own hypotheses which are being contradicted by this science, and instead of modifying their own beliefs, they choose to attack the science instead. They usually don't have any scientific evidence to show that the science is wrong, so they mainly rely on the premise that their own hypotheses can't be wrong, so therefore science must be wrong and they must be right. Somehow they don't see just how unconvincing that logic is to anyone who doesn't already accept their beliefs.

So, basically they think they are infallible in some areas of knowledge, and it's likely that nothing can change their mind about that. Unfortunately, their reasons for thinking that they are infallible in that area also cause them to preach their "truth" wherever they can and they assume that their supposed infallibility will win them through any argument.

Still, they sometimes say things that other people may be wondering about but remaining silent on, so they are good excuses for people to learn about and discuss various topics in science, and that's always a good thing. :-)


Bolens
Posted 10 September 2006 at 10:01 pm

Inconnu said: "I don't see the relevance of your point. The work of a scientist has little, if anything, to do with the philosophical/theological question of a deity creating a universe to 'look' a certain age. Considering that there would be no natural evidence to prove that this 'event' happened."

Thank you for putting thought upon the notion. I am glad that the scientific scientific community can trust in what they can see, touch, and measure. I appreciate the advances brought about by humanity's analysis of the world around us, mankind's creativity and applied physics, math. I am alive today because of advances in the medical field.

The relevance is that most or all timelines would be rendered inaccurate, though this is not a big deal as far as I'm concerned. What I am curious about, is this: If there were natural evidence(s) that a Creator made the earth to look a certain age, how much of it would it take for you to believe in said Deity? Would any fragment of faith still be required? Is all that which is not measurable irrelevant? I choose to believe that your life is more important than measurements, micrometers and guages.


donlaudanny
Posted 10 September 2006 at 10:28 pm

The article mentions the Snowball Earth theory. A topic worth it's own article.

It still can happen today. The theory operates under the observation that snow/ice reflects heat rather than absorbs it. Thus, if a certain % of the Earth's surface were covered with ice (I think the calculation was around 70%), then there would be no going back as more and more area is converted to snow and less and less heat is retained...until the earth was just one big snowball. It would take millions of years for volcanism to release enough greenhouse gases to thaw out, and the thaw out would produce a hellish sauna. More than enough to destroy almost all complex life on Earth. This is, in fact, achieveable with enough nuclear bombs to create an endless nuclear winter.


Reilly
Posted 11 September 2006 at 12:48 am

azngeek714 said: "Science and religion, fighting in the playground again…"

Religion simply needs to get back on its side of the fence. Both have their place and are usefull within their own domain. Science is about proof. Religion is fundamentally unprovable.

HiEv is right on the money.
I find (and im sure many others feel the same way) it very telling that the bible gang put their ideas out there and then refuse to stand behind them and engage in debate.

I just wanted to take a second to plug the e-book by the author of Dilbert, Scott Adams; God's Debris: A thought experiment. It most definatly qualifies as damn interesting and is available for download free here.

http://www.andrewsmcmeel.com/godsdebris/

If you enjoy having your perceptions challenged then I cannot recommend it highly enough.


Byrden
Posted 11 September 2006 at 01:24 am

Misfit: I disagree that the video was "REALLY well done". I viewed part 2.
The only time when the screen was used to illustrate the narrative, was during the "life game". All of the other graphics were "eye candy" that explained nothing.

HiEv: after consulting some dictionaries, I still have no idea what is a "nuh-uh"-type response.

Bolens:

>> If there were natural evidence(s) that a Creator made the earth to look a certain age, how
>> much of it would it take for you to believe in said Deity?

If a creator made the earth to "look a certain age", and we were then able to find evidence that he did it, that creator would be a failure. He tried to create an illusion but it was not convincing. Do Deities fail? I don't think so. I would take this as evidence of a super-being who was not a Deity.

Also, what do you mean by "believe in" the creator? Even if we knew (somehow) that everything was created, that would not tell us anything about the nature of the creator. It would not tell us that he authored any specific "holy book". Without any commandments or messages from him, the fact of creation would not impact our lives. Can we "believe in" a creator that we don't know anything about?


Tim Kinsella
Posted 11 September 2006 at 05:06 am

wooo!!! 55th comment! IN YOUR FACE NUMBER 56!


plowshare
Posted 11 September 2006 at 05:40 am

etonalife said: "Here is a link to the Snowball Earth theories.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowball_earth

Thanks for the link, etonalife, but it only strengthens what I said. The Snowball earth theory that it treats in detail says, just like I and the Scientific American article did, that the snowball earth for which there is solid evidence took place shortly before the Cambrian. If you go back and read what I wrote, and what the DamnInteresting article said, we are disagreeing about something on the order of one-and-a-half billion years.

Now, granted, the Wikipedia article does devote a short paragraph to an ice age of 2.3 billion years ago, but says the evidence for it being planet-wide is scanty and that there are a number of alternative theories for why glaciers were found near the equator then.


Please remember that these theories are really quite recent (It's only been 50 some year since tectonics have been accepted - Who will deny plate motion these days?). And also, please remember that these theories are simply theories - which are created by the people actually studying the time periods or locations. Would it make any sense for a geologist to question what his doctor says about influenza? If you don't believe the scientists, do not badger them unless you are able to provide an alternative (that actually is reasonable) with the data.

I am a geologist, and have never in my life found it easy to believe in an Almighty. However, the more learn about this strange world, the more I am in sheer awe. "

Well, duh, data was exactly what I was asking for.
Data are what I am asking for now too. Can you direct me to an article that gives more data about the ice age of 2.3 billion years ago than the Wikipedia article does?


plowshare
Posted 11 September 2006 at 05:59 am

etonalife said: "And also, please remember that these theories are simply theories - which are created by the people actually studying the time periods or locations. Would it make any sense for a geologist to question what his doctor says about influenza? If you don't believe the scientists, do not badger them unless you are able to provide an alternative (that actually is reasonable) with the data. And no, books are not data. Rocks are data."

Have you read Alan Bellow's resume? There is no mention there of him being a geologist. If he had named some geologists who formulated the theory, I might not have posted a reply at all, or if I did, I would have worded it a completely different way.

He even makes a factual error in one place, where he says: "the Earth was eventually stripped of her methane, and with it her ability to store the heat from the sun." He forgot about carbon dioxide. Until someone gives me data about the amount of CO_2 in the atmosphere 2.3 billion years ago, I will continue to favor the theory that it took another billion and a half years to remove enough of it to put the earth into a truly global ice age.


jaydawg53
Posted 11 September 2006 at 07:32 am

I know someone else already mentioned this above, but I just feel it needs repeating. The Bible was not written by God. The Bible was written by humans, in their interpretation of what God was telling them. Now, it's possible that God spoke directly with these people since technically we weren't around to know for sure, but in modern times, we don't know of any times that God has directly spoken to someone. Now, they may have experienced something that they believe is God speaking to them, which brings us back to the basis of all religions: Faith.

I believe in God, but I also believe in the fact that humans make errors, and considering the fact that the Bible did not fall from the sky, but was written by humans, means that it inherently will contain errors. When God said he took 7 days to create the world, he didn't say that he took 168 hours to create the world. I mean, in the beginning of time, our modern calendar did not exist. So how can we interpret 7 days to mean 7 24-hour periods? What God meant by a day could have been a billion years...


adastra
Posted 11 September 2006 at 10:26 am

I just wanted to take a second to plug the e-book by the author of Dilbert, Scott Adams; God's Debris: A thought experiment. It most definatly qualifies as damn interesting and is available for download free here.
http://www.andrewsmcmeel.com/godsdebris/
If you enjoy having your perceptions challenged then I cannot recommend it highly enough."

Yep. It's Very DI. There's a factual error or two (gravity does NOT propagate instantaniously), and a few logical errors, but over all - well worth reading.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 11 September 2006 at 10:42 am

A-Train72 said: "So what your saying is that the earth was frozen, then it slowly heated up naturally to melt away the ice?

Gee….. maybe global warming is a natural thing. Pay attention Al Gore."

Yes, the Earth naturally passes through phases of increased and decreased global temperatures, but part of Al Gore's movie, and most of the scientific research on the topic, is about how the current warming goes far beyond anything seen in the last 850,000 years. The planet is warming faster, and CO2 concentrations are so much higher, than the Earth has seen in recent times.

Thousands of brilliant scientists have spent their entire lives studying the behavior of the Earth's systems in relation to global temperature. To presume that your two-second interpretation of an event that happened over 2.5 billion years ago suddenly disproves the contraverting massive body of evidence is ridiculous. Al Gore's movie actually does a pretty good job of summing up that science, without too much in the way of partisan political rhetoric. But, judging by your comment, you haven't and wouldn't consider watching the movie because it disagrees with your pre-set worldview. Reality's going to be a painful thing for you.


Western
Posted 11 September 2006 at 11:11 am

Drakvil said:"Within the last 5000 years we have been creating machines and complex tools, which no other animal on Earth does, that will create by-products that are either not produced by naturally occuring processes or in quantities that exceed those of natural processes. An example would be burning oil… there is no natural process that will refine and burn millions of barrels of oil a day and spout the by-products into the air. "

Are you serious? You may want to look into the byproducts of an average size volcanic eruption before making that statement.


Western
Posted 11 September 2006 at 12:15 pm

choctaw bob said: "A true believer of the inerrancy of the Bible believes that the world is flat!
http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/febible.htm
To accept that the world is round is to accept evolution also."

Congratulations on finding the freak among the crowd. Contrary to the popular opinion that the internet holds no garbage, that page is James Jones-ish bunk. No right-thinking Christian believes the world to be flat, now or ever in history. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth_Society

Hopefully you seriously don't believe what you wrote, but just thought it important to set the facts straight.

On a somewhat related note, I find it quite interesting that evolutionists, atheists, anti-deists, and the like always proclaim to know exactly what their idealogical opponent believes without exception. And yet they always seem to be so way out in left field from everything that I've read and heard directly from the opposite team. Is it possible to present ideas sans straw-men? May I suggest that if you don't want to waste your time learning their true positions, please refrain from making them up on heresay. It's really bad scholarship if nothing else.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 11 September 2006 at 12:57 pm

Western said: "...On a somewhat related note, I find it quite interesting that evolutionists, atheists, anti-deists, and the like always proclaim to know exactly what their idealogical opponent believes without exception. "

This is very similar to the argument leveled against creationists and others in regards to their understanding of the science.

Both sides are too lazy or otherwise unwilling to understand the other fully, and that, of course, is a major part of the problem!

Without straw men, modern debaters would be forced to read, listen to, and comprehend opposing arguments. If that ever happened, some outstanding issues might just be resolved. But it seems that few are interested in resolving differences, we are instead interested only in proving the "other side" wrong.


Drakvil
Posted 11 September 2006 at 03:13 pm

adastra said: "Yep. It's Very DI. There's a factual error or two (gravity does NOT propagate instantaniously)...."

Very interesting point. This isn't a knock, but I am curious - is there any information about the rate at which gravity does propagate?

Western said: "Drakvil said:"l… there is no natural process that will refine and burn millions of barrels of oil a day and spout the by-products into the air. "

Are you serious? You may want to look into the byproducts of an average size volcanic eruption before making that statement."

Good point- thank you for pointing that out, but I don't know if a volcano will produce all the same by-products that burning oil will produce (although they do produce many things that oil does not), and in very large quantities. But will a volcano do that on a constantly increasing basis for over a hundred years? (I'm not trying to knock you, just interested questioning). And Man does create a lot of chemical compounds that are not going to be found in any natural process.

azngeek714 said: "Science and religion, fighting in the playground again…."

Mom! Religion's pulling my hair again!


SparkyTWP
Posted 11 September 2006 at 05:03 pm

Western said: "Congratulations on finding the freak among the crowd. Contrary to the popular opinion that the internet holds no garbage, that page is James Jones-ish bunk. No right-thinking Christian believes the world to be flat, now or ever in history. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth_Society"

I think what he meant (At least how I interpreted it) is that creationists take some parts of the bible literally, while completely ignoring the other parts that would be considered absurd (By them at least). Basically, if you're going to take some passages at face value, why not others or all of them? The webpage is just a satirical example of that.


Sen.McCarthy
Posted 11 September 2006 at 06:16 pm

Western said: On a somewhat related note, I find it quite interesting that evolutionists, atheists, anti-deists, and the like always proclaim to know exactly what their idealogical opponent believes without exception. And yet they always seem to be so way out in left field from everything that I've read and heard directly from the opposite team. Is it possible to present ideas sans straw-men? May I suggest that if you don't want to waste your time learning their true positions, please refrain from making them up on heresay. It's really bad scholarship if nothing else."

By accusing ALL atheists, etc. of assuming things, you yourself are assuming things about atheists. But, incidentally, I agree with you. We all need to use a little common sense when arguing religion vs. science.

HiEv said: "Sadly, he isn't. Shandooga, just_dave, and a few others regularly post "nuh-uh"-type responses to anything that appears to contradict their creationist views."

Shandooga said: " Darwin was wrong and everything based on his brilliant mastery of the obvious is wrong too. There, I said it."

I, personally, think it reeks of sarcasm. But whatever, probably the wrong thing to argue about, I just want the last laugh for once :)

And finally, to the argument that God created the universe to seem 24 billion years old (I know that's wrong, don't correct me) and so on, I have an opinion that differs slightly. If God intented to create an illusion, then why are humans trying to uncover it if it's part of His master plan? I am one that that happens to be completely fooled by His handiwork, so I don't believe in Him. But, if He does exist, then that's a damn good job there, God. Anyone get what I'm trying to say? Sometimes I don't make any sense...

That brings something new into my mind. What if God is really just part of a real civilization that is so advanced that it creates entire dimensions purely to study them, or even for entertainment? *cue Twilight Zone theme*

I'm gonna go eat some cookies and watch South Park now...


Reilly
Posted 11 September 2006 at 06:20 pm

adastra said: "Yep. It's Very DI. There's a factual error or two (gravity does NOT propagate instantaniously), and a few logical errors, but over all - well worth reading."

In the material explaining the book and the manner it was written Scott Adams discusses the difficulties encountered in writing dialouge for a charator who literally knows everything. He goes on the say that the book contains several factual errors that sound true and challenges the reader to find them.

Drakvil said: "Very interesting point. This isn't a knock, but I am curious - is there any information about the rate at which gravity does propagate:"

Gravity propagates at the speed of light. Eintein proved this although his method is unknown to me. The speed of gravity is one of the key differences between Newtonian physics and General Relativity.

Western said:..." Are you serious? You may want to look into the byproducts of an average size volcanic eruption before making that statement."

According to the wikipedia (witch I am aware is not nessisarily correct)

"The initial carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the young Earth was produced by volcanic activity; this was essential for a warm and stable climate conducive to life. Volcanic activity now releases about 130 to 230 teragrams (145 million to 255 million short tons) of carbon dioxide each year. Volcanic releases are about 1% of the amount which is released by human activities."


Reilly
Posted 11 September 2006 at 07:07 pm

Sen.McCarthy said: ...."I, personally, think it reeks of sarcasm. But whatever, probably the wrong thing to argue about, I just want the last laugh for once :)…"

I have had encounters with shandooga before and while it does sound so outlandish as to be sarcastic he isnt, unless his opinions have swung 180 degrees recently.

ReReading my above comment I thought I should elaborate slightly. In Newtonian physics the speed of gravity is infinate. In General Relativity it travels at the slower but still sharpish speed of light.

Also, according to Al Gore humans emit on the order of 70 million tons of CO2 daily.


NinerSevenTango
Posted 11 September 2006 at 07:24 pm

Science tainted by politics is as dangerous as science tainted by mysticism.

One aspect I find interesting is that the underlying premise of most current theories is that the earth's climate is governed by positive feedback mechanisms. This means that the climate is inherently unstable, tending towards increasing divergence (of temperature, for this decade's argument). Like a man walking a tightrope, the slightest impulse could cause a divergence that would wipe us out. If this premise is accepted without question, then it is easy to follow on with the conclusion that the enlightened among us should be entrusted with the power of controlling economic activity, and more to the point, controlling individuals' access to energy, in order to spare us the possibility of releasing too much of whatever we use and thereby annihilating the planet. If we accept this premise without question we are disarmed against the argument that even if they are wrong, the possibility that they might be right is reason enough to give them this power now, before it is too late.

But the orthodoxy in politicized science is as strong as religious orthodoxy has ever been. Those in the field who get their paychecks from other people's taxes know better than to question the orthodoxy; anyone else who would question it is marginalized, isolated, ridiculed, and ultimately ignored into oblivion.

There are a few facts that might be accepted without too much debate, which when considered might give pause. The first is that your consumption of energy, and the energy that goes into the products you acquire and consume, are not only a good measure of your standard of living, but could be argued to be a valid definition of your standard of living. The second is that throughout the history of man, there have always been those who wished to ride herd on the rest of humanity, ruling by using whatever means the technology of the day provided that would best insure obedience and remove the ability of the people to resist.

With these two thoughts in mind, I ask the readers here to consider what kind of power would be given to a government that could throttle the access to energy of its citizens. And please question what kind of knaves should be given this power.

Then perhaps we can carefully begin to examine the data for ourselves, so as to draw our own conclusions, based on our own agenda, that of survival and self-interest. Perhaps we could ask some politically incorrect questions along the way.

But even if we never get that far, at least we should check those underlying premises before swallowing the argument whole. There's a lot at stake here.

Would someone like to venture an argument in support of the positive feedback premise?

--97T--


adastra
Posted 11 September 2006 at 07:24 pm

Reilly says: In Newtonian physics the speed of gravity is infinate. In General Relativity it travels at the slower but still sharpish speed of light.

There was actually some debate about that recently when some researcher declared they had evidence that seemed to indicate that gravity propagated faster than the speed of light. Something to do with Jupiter and gravitational lensing, maybe. Anyway, it didn't stand up to peer review.


adastra
Posted 11 September 2006 at 07:29 pm

BTW - There's an excellent Science Channel - Miracle Planet program on 'snowball earth' that I'm watching as I type this. How's THAT for coincidence.


plowshare
Posted 11 September 2006 at 07:30 pm

y

Anthony Kendall said: "Yes, the Earth naturally passes through phases of increased and decreased global temperatures, but part of Al Gore's movie, and most of the scientific research on the topic, is about how the current warming goes far beyond anything seen in the last 850,000 years. The planet is warming faster, and CO2 concentrations are so much higher, than the Earth has seen in recent times."

The last bit about CO2 is correct but we do not have enough data on the earlier interglacials to be sure that the planet is warming faster than it did in those periods; and it may take a good while before worldwide temperatures are higher than in any of the earlier interglacials.

It's even doubtful that temperatures are higher than they were when the Vikings discovered Greenland. Only in the last year or two has it been possible to resume the kind of farming that they did back then.

There is an awful lot that we don't know yet about global climate and what drives it. One thing I would dearly like to know is whether the rest of the planet was similarly warm around 1000, or whether it was a localized North Atlantic effect. There is a theory that as Arctic warms, the Gulf stream will die down and Northen Europe will actually get colder as a result.


etonalife
Posted 11 September 2006 at 08:44 pm

plowshare said: "Have you read Alan Bellow's resume? There is no mention there of him being a geologist. If he had named some geologists who formulated the theory, I might not have posted a reply at all, or if I did, I would have worded it a completely different way.

He even makes a factual error in one place, where he says: "the Earth was eventually stripped of her methane, and with it her ability to store the heat from the sun." He forgot about carbon dioxide. Until someone gives me data about the amount of CO_2 in the atmosphere 2.3 billion years ago, I will continue to favor the theory that it took another billion and a half years to remove enough of it to put the earth into a truly global ice age."

I understand the skepticism surrounding this subject. And no, I never checked A. Bellow's resume, but I also don't research everything I read...

Here are some references for your satisfaction:

GSA Today: Vol. 15, No. 11, pp. 4–11. Victor A. Melezhik

Geology: Vol. 34, No. 6, pp. 437–440. Adriana Dutkiewicz

Geology: Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 87–90. Alexander A. Pavlov

Geology: Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 351–354. John W. Valley

Geology: Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 363–366. William H. Peck

Geology: Vol. 29, No. 11, pp. 1003–1006. Alexander A. Pavlov

Holland, H.D., 1994, Early Proterozoic atmospheric change,: in Bengtson, S., ed., Early life on Earth: New York, Columbia University Press, p. 237–244

As you can tell, I really only have access to the journal - Geology. You should be able to find these in any major university library. I imagine there is substantial more literature available in other publications. Since this episode is so far back in time, there will not be nearly as much research as on more recent snowball earths. Your carbon question is valid, and I don't have an answer, however the above articles will likely provide links in their references.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 12 September 2006 at 04:14 am

NinerSevenTango said: "...One aspect I find interesting is that the underlying premise of most current theories is that the earth's climate is governed by positive feedback mechanisms. This means that the climate is inherently unstable, tending towards increasing divergence (of temperature, for this decade's argument)..."

Actually, that's not totally true, and the way you've construed it is entirely false. The current theories suggest that the Earth's climate is governed by a set of feedbacks, some positive, others negative. The negative feedback mechanisms (sometimes collectively called homeostasis) include increased productivity of foreset growth in high CO2 conditions, or increased absorption of CO2 by the oceans. However, there is a limit to the capabilities of these mechanisms to return the atmosphere to its previous stable condition. Beyond that limit, called the "tipping point" by some, the positive feedbacks will release so much CO2 that the negative feebacks can no longer return the system to equlibrium.

If today we stopped emitting ALL CO2, most scientists agree the climate would return to normal. We haven't yet reached the tipping point. But, maybe in ten years or so, if we don't stop or slow or emissions very significantly, then Mother Nature cannot return us to equlibrium anytime soon. We will face a runaway positive feedback process of ocean level rise and temperature increase.

You can couch your opposition to global warming theory in terms of political control of energy supplies all you want, but that won't stop global warming from happening.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 12 September 2006 at 04:27 am

plowshare said: "The last bit about CO2 is correct but we do not have enough data on the earlier interglacials to be sure that the planet is warming faster than it did in those periods; and it may take a good while before worldwide temperatures are higher than in any of the earlier interglacials..."

Actually, the recent (like two weeks ago) release of the ice core data from Dome C in Antarctica extended our understanding of rates of warming and CO2 release back to 850,000 years. CO2 concentrations can be directly measured, and temperature is measured via a proxy, in this case the ratio of the 16 and 18 atomic weight isotopes of Oxygen. The ratio of the two gives an excellent correllation to all other current- and paleo-temperature indicators. And guess what? Past temperature increases were much more gradual than the one we're experiencing today.

You're very right that it might take a while before temperatures are warmer than earlier interglacials. In those periods, CO2 and temperature varied quite closely, but we have increased CO2 so much more quickly than the world has seen in almost a million years that temperature will slowly respond as the various heat reservoirs (i.e. the oceans) absorb some excess heat for now.

This entire "debate" about global warming exists only in the political and popular arenas. Despite what you may have heard, there is no debate about human-induced warming within the climate- or geo-sciences. What does that mean? It means that thousands and thousands of scientists (who would be set for life if they could DISPROVE global warming, contrary to what Michael Crichton is spewing) who spend their entire working lives dealing with these issues have looked at the evidence and the theory and judged it sound. In the last year, all scientific opposition to various parts of the warming theory (i.e. Sea surface temperature and tropospheric temperature anomalies) have gone away. The anti-global warming texts that all of those various arguments come from have yet to be updated, so all of your tired arguments are out-of-date. Even the US president acknowledges it. It's time to leave the denial phase and accept global warming, because we can still do something about it.


blingblang
Posted 12 September 2006 at 09:57 am

Great article!!! Very interesting....I mean damn interesting!


plowshare
Posted 12 September 2006 at 11:21 am

Anthony Kendall said: "Actually, the recent (like two weeks ago) release of the ice core data from Dome C in Antarctica extended our understanding of rates of warming and CO2 release back to 850,000 years. CO2 concentrations can be directly measured, and temperature is measured via a proxy, in this case the ratio of the 16 and 18 atomic weight isotopes of Oxygen. The ratio of the two gives an excellent correllation to all other current- and paleo-temperature indicators. And guess what? Past temperature increases were much more gradual than the one we're experiencing today.."

I stand corrected, then. Could you give me a reference to the data on this? I'd especially appreciate one which explains the correlation--is it pure statistical analysis, or is there a physical theory as to why higher temperatures should give different ratios?

"In the last year, all scientific opposition to various parts of the warming theory (i.e. Sea surface temperature and tropospheric temperature anomalies) have gone away. The anti-global warming texts that all of those various arguments come from have yet to be updated, so all of your tired arguments are out-of-date."

That there has been warming, I have never doubted; so it is only the comparison as to times like the 11th century that I'm curious about. Calling what I said about that "your tired arguments" runs counter to your agreement with Western about how we should try to understand where each of us is coming from.

I've been interested in the mystery of the disappearance of the Vikings from Greenland since well before the current crop of anti-global warming texts, which I've never even read although I've inevitably seen some articles that state flatly that global temperatures were higher in the 11th century. I'm in suspended judgment about that as you should have been able to see from what I wrote.


jreiter
Posted 12 September 2006 at 11:22 am

For anyone who has questioned Creationism vs Darwinism please look into the book “The Case for the Creator.” It is a great account of one man’s search for God. He interviews many scientists and learns that not all of Darwin’s theory’s hold water. Look into the PreCambriodic Explosion.


HiEv
Posted 12 September 2006 at 11:36 am

Byrden said: "HiEv: after consulting some dictionaries, I still have no idea what is a "nuh-uh"-type response."

Sorry. Basically it's just a way lots of people say "that's not true." (Person A: "The fastest anything can go is the speed of light." Person B: "Nuh-uh. Things can go faster.") By it I just meant they simply disagree without giving a good scientific reason for their disagreement.

Drakvil said:"Within the last 5000 years we have been creating machines and complex tools, which no other animal on Earth does, that will create by-products that are either not produced by naturally occuring processes or in quantities that exceed those of natural processes. An example would be burning oil… there is no natural process that will refine and burn millions of barrels of oil a day and spout the by-products into the air. "
Western said: "Are you serious? You may want to look into the byproducts of an average size volcanic eruption before making that statement."

Western, you should take your own advice. See here:

Volcanos Emit More CO2
http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/02/volcanos-emit-more-co2.html

Quote: "The sum total of all volcanoes emit CO2 at a rate about 1/150th that of anthropogenic emissions."

Lots of other good information on global warming misinformation can be found here:

How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic guide - Guides by Category
http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/03/guides-by-category.html


Anthony Kendall
Posted 12 September 2006 at 11:48 am

plowshare said: "...Could you give me a reference to the data on this?

Plowshare, the latest have yet to be published, but here is a news story announcing the preliminary results. Here is a blog entry I wrote last November about the previous ice core (that went back 650,000 years). In particular, look at this graph that shows the general covariance of CO2, methane, and the temperature proxy. Then look at present day concentrations.

I'd especially appreciate one which explains the correlation–is it pure statistical analysis, or is there a physical theory as to why higher temperatures should give different ratios?

Sorry I don't have a good link to explain this, but it's more than a statistical analysis. Basically, oxygen atoms in water come in two primary forms, 18-O and 16-O. The lighter water molecules evaporate much more easily from the oceans, so when there are lots of glaciers worldwide there ratio between 18/16 O is affected. It's a pretty robust relationship that has some uncertainties due to climatic effects, but these are much smaller than the range of changes observed in the Antarctica core.

Calling what I said about that "your tired arguments" runs counter to your agreement with Western about how we should try to understand where each of us is coming from.

Quite right, I should just have kept that thought to myself.

I've been interested in the mystery of the disappearance of the Vikings from Greenland since well before the current crop of anti-global warming texts, which I've never even read although I've inevitably seen some articles that state flatly that global temperatures were higher in the 11th century. I'm in suspended judgment about that as you should have been able to see from what I wrote."

Here are Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstructions, i.e. Mann's "hockey stick" graph (much-maligned but still largely correct). You'll see that today it is warmer on average than in the 11th century. There is some evidence that variability in solar radition was to blame for the warming then, but unfortunately there's no ready solar explanation for our current warming.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 12 September 2006 at 11:49 am

Sorry, the graph link didn't work in that last comment, here it is again.


HiEv
Posted 12 September 2006 at 11:53 am

jreiter said: "For anyone who has questioned Creationism vs Darwinism please look into the book “The Case for the Creator.” It is a great account of one man’s search for God. He interviews many scientists and learns that not all of Darwin’s theory’s hold water. Look into the PreCambriodic Explosion."

No, he only interviews three scientists, the rest have degrees in theology or philosophy. You might want to see the Wikipedia criticisms and this detailed review of the books problems:

Another Case Not Made: A Critique of Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator (2005)
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/paul_doland/creator.html


smokefoot
Posted 12 September 2006 at 02:21 pm

The Precambrian explosion was a damn interesting event in earth history, but I don't see how it causes any leaks in evolution. It was a time when a huge number of new body plans appeared, many of which have since gone extinct. Is the argument that there was _too much_ change happening to be caused by natural selection?


SparkyTWP
Posted 12 September 2006 at 03:44 pm

I believe the argument is that there was a sudden explosion in the amount of life on earth (Based on fossil records), but no evidence of enough ancestor species to spring from. I don't know a whole lot about it, but it doesn't seem they found a way to explain this yet (At least that's my understanding based on the wikipedia article).

This doesn't make creationism correct, nor does it invalidate evolution. It's just another one of science's many many MANY unanswered questions that hasn't been answered yet. I'm not sure how creationists use it to support themselves, since there is plenty of fossil records of life predating it, so it doesn't support the "instanta life-o-matic" thought that many of them have.


NinerSevenTango
Posted 12 September 2006 at 11:46 pm

Thank you for your response, Anthony.

Anthony Kendall said: "Actually, that's not totally true, and the way you've construed it is entirely false. The current theories suggest that the Earth's climate is governed by a set of feedbacks, some positive, others negative. The negative feedback mechanisms (sometimes collectively called homeostasis) include increased productivity of foreset growth in high CO2 conditions, or increased absorption of CO2 by the oceans. However, there is a limit to the capabilities of these mechanisms to return the atmosphere to its previous stable condition. Beyond that limit, called the "tipping point" by some, the positive feedbacks will release so much CO2 that the negative feebacks can no longer return the system to equlibrium.

True, I did not mention that negative feedback systems are taken into account. They must be, as a matter of course. My point is that the point you make here is the political orthodoxy. That is, the system is inherently unstable, the activities of man are affecting positive feedback factors, and are pushing the system past the 'tipping point'.

The 'current theories', being embodied in computer models used to make these predictions, fail the test of predicting current behavior based on previous data. In other words, if you feed in the information up to a certain point in the past, then see whether it predicts accurately what has happened since then, they predict big increases in temperature that did not occur. Since this revelation a few years ago, there has been some tinkering with them to allow them to predict a little closer to historical data, but with this 'tipping point' thrown in to explain the future temperature increases we are going to supposedly see. In other words, they went to a more non-linear prediction (as in, "miracle happens here" in the formula).

If today we stopped emitting ALL CO2, most scientists agree the climate would return to normal. We haven't yet reached the tipping point. But, maybe in ten years or so, if we don't stop or slow or emissions very significantly, then Mother Nature cannot return us to equlibrium anytime soon. We will face a runaway positive feedback process of ocean level rise and temperature increase.

Thank you for making my point, again. Whether most scientists agree, I am not sure. Whether most scientists agreeing makes it true, I am not sure. Their track record on predicting weather is not encouraging. More to the point, however, there are legitimate questions as to whether; a) the increase in temperatures is the result of manmade sources of CO2, b) whether the increase in CO2 is actually an effect, rather than the cause of, increasing temperature, and c) whether the weather we are experiencing is 'abnormal' in the first place. The question is not settled, whether increasing temperatures lead, rather than follow, CO2 increases. And whether increasing temperatures can lead to release of CO2 from the oceans, on a scale consistent with observed increases. As to what is 'normal', should it be the temperatures of the 'medieval climate optimum', or the temperatures of the 'little ice age' that followed?

The long range data indicates that we are still below average for the last 3000 years, without any history of global warming catastrophes during many much warmer periods. Further, if you will look at a graph of historical temperatures superimposed with data from solar magnetic cycle length, you will see a striking correspondence between them -- should we be surprised that it gets warmer when the sun shines brighter?

Where is the evidence for a 'tipping point'? Where is the evidence that reducing us all to stone age energy usage would change anything one whit?

Have you seen how noisy the temperature data really is? Over the short term, extracting trend data out of the noise is ludicrous.

You can couch your opposition to global warming theory in terms of political control of energy supplies all you want, but that won't stop global warming from happening."

And quite likely, neither will anything else stop it, until the next downturn in temperature.

If you look at the data, it appears that the system is rather stable (on a human historical time scale), with lots of variation (noise) over the short term. It appears that trends are inevitable and that they have a scale that dwarfs the puny effects of mankind.

I don't 'oppose' theories, I examine the evidence for them. But yes, I do oppose people with a political agenda that seeks to stifle freedom, who have turned to science to push their agenda after the downtrodden workers have refused to grant them the absolute power they wanted. I oppose uncritical acceptance of theories sold as facts in an attempt to push this agenda.

Would you like to put forth an argument in support of the positive feedback (or 'tipping point') premise?

--97T--


Reilly
Posted 13 September 2006 at 02:38 am

The science based TV show in Australia called Catalyst fairly recently did an story on just this point. It can be viewed here if you are interested. It is called appropriatly enough, Tipping Point.

http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/watch/default.htm

It is the third story down.

Also worth watching is the story attacking Japans allegedly science based whaling program.

NinerSevenTango said: " Whether most scientists agree, I am not sure.Whether most scientists agreeing makes it true, I am not sure. Their track record on predicting weather is not encouraging."

There is no, NO scientific debate over the existance of global warming. There has been none for quite some time. That doesnt make it right but when a large number of very clever people have studied it and all come up with the same opinion we can be fairly confident that it is correct, particularly when proof global warming is false would gurantee a Nobel prize.

Predicting the weather is somewhat like predicting the outcome of a single coin toss. Predicting the climate is more like predicting the outcome of a thousand coin tosses.

NinerSevenTango said: "Have you seen how noisy the temperature data really is? Over the short term, extracting trend data out of the noise is ludicrous."

The point is not to come up with an equation that perfectly predicts what the temperature has been and will do. The general trend is what is important. The simple, undeniable fact is that since the industrial revolution, when greenhouse gas emmisions began to skyrocket, every 20 year 'slice' has been hotter then the previous one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

Or how about the fact that 8 of the 10 hottest years on record have happend in the last decade. Are you going to tell me that is a coincidence?

smokefoot said: "The Precambrian explosion was a damn interesting event...."

Hint, Hint Alan (and awesome article by the way)


NinerSevenTango
Posted 13 September 2006 at 07:12 am

Reilly,

Thank you for taking your time to respond.

Typical of science TV, the first link you provided is fact-free. "Feel sorry for these frogs and these baby birds, global warming is killing them."

There is no information there about whether the earth's weather systems are inherently unstable, and whether the meager inputs by mankind will push the climate past a 'tipping point', beyond which a global catastrophe will occur. It is just accepted as bedrock reality, everything that is presented is based upon acceptance of the unproven premise, as if it were established fact.

It's propaganda for the uninformed.

And while you may be correct that there isn't much debate going on over global warming in the media, there is NOT a gigantic consensus in the scientific community on it. The scientific method is being ignored and silenced on this issue. Those who do not toe the party line are not funded. Those who will document thumbnail-sized frogs that are going to die because of global warming get funding. And their results are packaged for mass consumption by journalists who keep any real data out of the presentation.

The simple, undeniable fact is that since the industrial revolution, when greenhouse gas emmisions began to skyrocket, every 20 year 'slice' has been hotter then the previous one.

Only if you pick and choose your data to exclude that which does not fit your hypothesis. (How about 1980 to 2000, since we are picking and choosing?) Advocates prefer to use temperature measurements which are skewed by the heat island effect, while ignoring other sources of data, such as radiosonde balloon measurements and satellite microwave measurements (which agree very closely with each other). And how should we explain the much more striking recent peaks in the 1800's, for instance?

Examination of your Wiki link shows that even that heavily biased source must grudgingly admit the lack of understanding of the mechanisms that govern global temperatures. And it grudgingly admits that there is scientific debate over the issue, even mentioning the heat island effect. They grudgingly admit that solar activity is at a current high point.

And there is an accepted but unexamined premise therein; they show linkage between CO2 levels and temperature, but we are expected to believe that by some mechanism CO2 increases and then the temperature increases in response. But the data does not imply this causality, especially the data from this century. And nowhere is is explained who put the CO2 into the atmosphere first, in the other much warmer periods in history.

Picking recent temperature peaks tells us no more than picking recent lows, of which there are many.

The information, and the theories that try to fit the information and predict the future, are not complete enough to justify the destruction of a civilisation.

--97T--


plowshare
Posted 13 September 2006 at 09:42 am

Anthony Kendall said: "Plowshare, the latest have yet to be published, but here is a news story announcing the preliminary results. Here is a blog entry I wrote last November about the previous ice core (that went back 650,000 years). In particular, look at this graph that shows the general covariance of CO2, methane, and the temperature proxy. Then look at present day concentrations."

http://www.anthonares.net/2005/11/published-research-synopsis-modern.html

Interesting article! The graph, which shows up better in the url you posted in your next message,
http://www.anthonares.net/1285-1-med.gif
gives some dramatic spikes in the concentrations of the three gases for the last two centuries or so. I take it the "temperature proxy" was obtained by measuring the O16-O18 ratio in the ice molecules [the article is not clear on this, and the graph has some symbols at the right that I couldn't decode]. However, I can't tell whether the graph supports what you said at the end:

"You'll see that today it is warmer on average than in the 11th century. There is some evidence that variability in solar radition was to blame for the warming then, but unfortunately there's no ready solar explanation for our current warming."

The scale on the graph is such that it is hard to tell where the last 1/100th between 0 and 100, representing one millennium, begins. I'd need to know how long a time period one vertical line segment represents.

As to your comment about solar radiation, that depends on what you mean by "current". Take a look at the Wikipedia entry for "Maunder Minimum":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maunder_minimum

The graph of "Solar activity events" seems to correlate well with what I recall about the changes in global temperature. I'd be interested in your reaction to it.


orielbean
Posted 13 September 2006 at 09:47 am

Greeeeeen GOOOOO


plowshare
Posted 13 September 2006 at 09:48 am

Instead of "last two centuries or so" I should have said "last millennium". What is badly needed here is a graph which stretches out the last few thousand years to where it is easy to tell one century from the next. But maybe the ice cores do not allow for such fine calibration.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 13 September 2006 at 10:16 am

NinerSevenTango said: "
Would you like to put forth an argument in support of the positive feedback (or 'tipping point') premise?"

Much of your reply to mine indicates that while we hold opposing viewpoints here, our perspectives on the scientific issue are so vastly different that resolving them in this forum would be quite difficult. I can very simply answer your "tipping point"/positive feedback question: Mechanism 1: as the pack ice in the Arctic sea shrinks, the Earth will absorb far more energy than it did when the ice was there. This will in turn accelerate the melting of the pack ice... Mechanism 2: Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. A continental ice sheet is capable of resisting melting for a long time (thermal inertia) and then very rapidly melting. These ice sheets also reflect much more energy back to space than does the bare ground underneath. So, melt part of the glacier, more energy is absorbed near the glacier, and then the rest melts more quickly. These two mechanisms don't need any evidence to prove them because they stem from very basic heat transfer and thermodynamic laws, as does much of the global warming theory. Those who insist on "proof" of this need only build a bench-scale model to see that it is true. But if those people aren't satisfied by scientific deduction and modeling, then I guess we'll just have to wait for our beaches to be washed away and our coastlines to be inundated by the rising waters of the world's oceans.

Aside from your disbelief in the current scientific theory, is a false dichotomy that you present: "stone age energy usage" vs. global warming. The technology exists to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions in a relatively cheap fashion. EPA's own report (can't remember exactly when released, I think last year) said that the costs of reducing emissions were far lower than global warming "skeptics" suggest. Though still early, the carbon "cap and trade" systems in Europe promise to offer the efficiencies of market economics to reducing emissions as well. Sure, some money will be spent, but there is absolutely ZERO evidence to say whether the net economic gain will be greater because of technology development and productivity gains than the direct costs of regulation.

As to whether reducing CO2 emissions limits a person's freedoms, of course it does. Living in a civilized society limits your freedom to murder and steal. Living on a crowded planet similarly limits your ability to wantonly pollute the atmosphere and effect changes to the entire global climate.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 13 September 2006 at 10:33 am

NinerSevenTango said: "...there is NOT a gigantic consensus in the scientific community on it. The scientific method is being ignored and silenced on this issue. Those who do not toe the party line are not funded. "

That statement is entirely untrue. There IS a "gigantic consensus" in the scientific community. The scientific method IS NOT being ignored and silenced. If a scientist came forward with proof that human-induced global warming is untrue, they would have more research funding than they could even spend. This whole idea is ridiculous hearsay that is entirely without basis in fact. I actually work in the climate sciences, and I read the journals and talk to the scientists as well (I'm a PhD student). Everyone I talk to about this "no funding for the naysayers" idea laughs their heads off. The government, industry, everyone would love it if we didn't have to take on the enormous task of reducing CO2 emissions, but there is no credible science to suggest otherwise.

"Only if you pick and choose your data to exclude that which does not fit your hypothesis. (How about 1980 to 2000, since we are picking and choosing?) Advocates prefer to use temperature measurements which are skewed by the heat island effect, while ignoring other sources of data, such as radiosonde balloon measurements and satellite microwave measurements (which agree very closely with each other). And how should we explain the much more striking recent peaks in the 1800's, for instance?"

The "urban heat-island" effect is long since corrected for. And there is no disagreement between those ground, radiosonde balloon, satellite, high-altitude airplane, ocean-bouy, submersible temperature profilers, or anything else. Within the last year every single one of those issues has dissapeared. The anti-global-warming texts are not recent enough to keep up with the actual science, sorry.

There is no issue with data selectivity either. Of course, yearly temperature fluctuates for a variety of reasons, but it is absolutely true to the best of all science's knowledge that global average temperatures are rising faster and are higher now than at any point in the last 2,000 years. Yes, there is a lot of noise but the noise averages out to a much warmer planet.

They grudgingly admit that solar activity is at a current high point.

Solar activity, i.e. sunspot activity and solar storms, are not directly linked to increased solar input. This has nothing to do with the amount of sunlight the Earth receives. The Earth now is not in a high point in terms of solar energy input, compared to say the Medieval warm period where 10% more solar energy shone on the Northern Hemisphere.

And there is an accepted but unexamined premise therein; they show linkage between CO2 levels and temperature, but we are expected to believe that by some mechanism CO2 increases and then the temperature increases in response. But the data does not imply this causality, especially the data from this century. And nowhere is is explained who put the CO2 into the atmosphere first, in the other much warmer periods in history.

You don't even seem to understand the basic idea of the "greenhouse effect". There is absolutely causality between high CO2 and high temperatures. Here you are trying to make a scientific argument without demonstrating at least recognition of the science of global warming. It's not all based on data and supposition. It's based on reliable physical theory that has proved itself in countless lab tests, and in real-world measurements.

The information, and the theories that try to fit the information and predict the future, are not complete enough to justify the destruction of a civilisation.

Again, this is a completely baseless statement. Civilization won't be destroyed by making more fuel efficient vehicles, installing more energy efficient lights, building more wind turbines, putting CO2 scrubbers on our smokestacks, etc. It will, however, stand a far better chance of being seriously harmed by the influx of hundreds of millions of refugees of floods and famine that global warming is likely to bring about.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 13 September 2006 at 10:39 am

Plowshare,
Thanks again for your thoughtful reply.

1) The observation about current temperatures related to 11th century ones is based on this graph, not the one from my blog. This one is created from a variety of temperature proxies including tree-rings, pollen analysis, and several others. The temperature proxy in the 650,000 year graph is indeed that 16/18 O ratio (oxygen isotope ratio, it's called). For that, the air trapped in bubbles in the ice core is sent through a mass spectrometer and analyzed for its isotopic composition.

2) Yeah, the Maunder Minimum is very intriguing because of how closely it aligns with the "Little Ice Age". As far as I've seen in the science literature, there is no clear understanding of how solar output is related to sunspot activity. Also, the "Little Ice Age" is an interesting event in that its extent was not uniform across the globe. In some areas of Europe the period is considerably different, like 50 years or so shifted, from that in North America. This is something that I am keeping an eye on to see how the science develops. It may be something that NASA will need to address with future Solar-observing spacecraft to truly resolve.


praisingfool
Posted 13 September 2006 at 11:47 am

SparkyTWP said: "As a counterexample, I will use cosmology. Currently, there is a lot of debate and disagreement about the nature/existance of dark matter. No one in this debate is saying the other is ignorant. They all have access to the same data, they are just interpreting it differently."

The funny thing is...this is exactly what has happened in the Creationist/Evolutionist debates. Each "side" has the same evidence and the same facts. But each side is interpreting it in different ways.

From Dr. Ham: "Creationists and evolutionists, Christians and non-Christians all have the same evidence—the same facts. Think about it: we all have the same earth, the same fossil layers, the same animals and plants, the same stars—the facts are all the same.

The difference is in the way we all interpret the facts. And why do we interpret facts differently? Because we start with different presuppositions. "


wh44
Posted 13 September 2006 at 12:24 pm

praisingfool said: "The funny thing is…this is exactly what has happened in the Creationist/Evolutionist debates. Each "side" has the same evidence and the same facts. But each side is interpreting it in different ways.

From Dr. Ham: "Creationists and evolutionists, Christians and non-Christians all have the same evidence—the same facts. Think about it: we all have the same earth, the same fossil layers, the same animals and plants, the same stars—the facts are all the same.

The difference is in the way we all interpret the facts. And why do we interpret facts differently? Because we start with different presuppositions. ""

I disagree strongly:

The creationists are taking the Bible not just as a presupposition (theory), but as solid evidence, ignoring that major portions of it are provably allegorical and not literal, and then often ignore facts which do not fit the theory or make implausible constructs to explain the discrepancies (e.g. "God made it that way to test our belief").

For the scientists on the other hand, if some evidence does not fit their theory, their 'presupposition', then they change the theory instead of ignoring the facts. That is the essence of good science.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 13 September 2006 at 04:35 pm

Plowshare,
Here's a blog entry at Real Climate (one of the top science blogs in the internet, written by prominent climate scientists) about solar forcing of climate change. Their conclusion from the current science (as I said in my last coment) is that the relationship between sunspot activity and solar radiation fluctuations is often overstated.


NinerSevenTango
Posted 13 September 2006 at 08:56 pm

Anthony,

These two mechanisms don't need any evidence to prove them because they stem from very basic heat transfer and thermodynamic laws, as does much of the global warming theory. Those who insist on "proof" of this need only build a bench-scale model to see that it is true. But if those people aren't satisfied by scientific deduction and modeling, then I guess we'll just have to wait for our beaches to be washed away and our coastlines to be inundated by the rising waters of the world's oceans.

At issue on this point is the weighting given to these effects, as well as the results. The warming trend started long before mankind began to alter the environment to make it more suitable for human life on earth. If you are involved in science, surely you must be aware that the burden of proof rests upon the one making the assertion. Particularly when global catastrophe is being promised if we don't let someone dictate how we will live. The thermodynamic principles are straightforward; the extent of the effects are not so simple. Please recall my point above, where I stated, "...the enlightened among us should be entrusted with the power of controlling economic activity, and more to the point, controlling individuals' access to energy, in order to spare us the possibility of releasing too much of whatever we use and thereby annihilating the planet. If we accept this premise without question we are disarmed against the argument that even if they are wrong, the possibility that they might be right is reason enough to give them this power now, before it is too late." And this is the case you are making.

In the next paragraph you describe how nice it will be when the statists put 'market forces' at work, using the fascist mechanism of forcing competitors to fight each other for the priveledge to exist, doled out through political process by their new masters.

In the next paragraph you explain how you can dream of such a state by admitting that you think freedom means murder, stealing, and wanton polluting. If you get your way, a certain class of citizens will get your kind of freedom -- the rulers.

In your next paragraph, you demand proof that human - induced global warming is not true. Do you see the parallel to those who demand of disbelievers proof that God does not exist? You can't prove a negative. If you assert a positive, then it must be provable to be believed. And, by the way, the signers of the global warming petition disagree with your consensus. Over 17,000 of them.

I applaud you for having the intelligence and initiative to be a PhD student. I hope your studies bring you success and carry you far. But I am not surprised to hear that any ideas outside the orthodoxy get laughed off in the university setting. In fact, it would surprise me if they didn't. And I am certain that there is absolute consensus among the people there.

I mentioned the heat island effect because the radiosonde and satellite data that I have seen shows downward trends in temperature between 1978 and 1998.

I mentioned data selectivity because of at least one article in Nature that was published where temperature data was picked spanning from a low point to a high point in support of the global warming hypothesis. An examination of the data for the years prior and after that dataset revealed the fraud.

I mentioned solar activity because the data that I have seen shows a striking correspondence between it and global temperatures. Perhaps it's too simplistic, and perhaps the relationsip has been 'overstated'. I suppose the idea that correspondence between activity of the sun and temperature measurements here might imply causality on the basis that we get most of our energy from it must be a farfetched conspiracy theory or something.

I do understand the greenhouse effect, please don't misunderstand me so quickly. I didn't argue against it. What I did bring up is the issue of cause and effect. I did this because the data that I have seen clearly shows the temperature increase in this century preceding the increase in CO2. Which might be expected if the oceans release more CO2 when they are warmer.

Again, this is a completely baseless statement. Civilization won't be destroyed by making more fuel efficient vehicles, installing more energy efficient lights, building more wind turbines, putting CO2 scrubbers on our smokestacks, etc. It will, however, stand a far better chance of being seriously harmed by the influx of hundreds of millions of refugees of floods and famine that global warming is likely to bring about.

Governments don't create or invent anything. Heavy handed government edicts stifle creativity and slow progress towards more efficient technology. If your P.R. job is successful, people will flock to buy these products anyway. Witness the demand for hybrid vehicles, despite the fact that they don't really make much sense. With the carrot and stick government approach, a few unwanted products will be produced, but the industries producing them will wither and stagnate. Already the U.S. is in the unenviable position of seeing its industry flee to communist countries where there is more economic freedom. Tighten the noose a little tighter, see what happens. I'm sure there aren't too many people in universities with anything but contempt for American businesses. But eventually, they themselves will feel the pinch when funding for their comfortable sweaters and armchairs dries up. And they won't be riding the limousines that will still be produced, either. When the Machiavellian politicians that they toady to are done with them, they will be discarded right along with the businessmen that paid them to bring about their own demise.

I'm not sure if you are aware that our almost-free energy is what gives us almost-free food. But your history books cannot hide the fact that the overwhelming majority of refugees are hapless people trying to flee the results of government ideas gone bad. Will we have to flee to a country that refuses to commit economic suicide?

I work in an energy-intensive industry, with metals. Most people do not realize the huge amounts of energy go into the most innocent looking little metal part. They also don't realize that their life of leisure will be quite different when the cost of their food, their heat, their appliances, and every other aspect of their existence begins to go beyond their means. The public sector consumes almost half of everything produced in the U.S. A widescale decrease in availability of energy will squeeze the producers even more, when margins are already thin enough to cause companies to leave the country.

This has gone beyond polite, and for that I apologize. The original questions about showing some evidence in support of the underlying premises have gone unanswered. And I have wandered far enough afield from the Damn Interesting article that provoked me to write in the first place, that now I am sure I have unfairly taken advantage of the generosity of our beneficient hosts here. So therefore I won't continue with this thread. I thank you for taking the time to read what I have written, and I thank you for taking the time to write. I hope you find time during your studies to take some engineering classes if you haven't already.

Good day,

--97T--


Anthony Kendall
Posted 14 September 2006 at 07:30 am

Niner,
I can say nothing of the "facts" you present other than to say that your sources are out-of-date, or are misrepresenting the real facts. There is no "warming trend" that we were in, it was quite the opposite, a cooling from the Medieval warm period. The data did not show that CO2 led to high temperatures in the past because they didn't. In a natural system, without outside shocks, high temperatures cause high CO2. But, humans have gone in an monkeyed with that system. We are putting out ENORMOUS quantities of CO2 that are reducing Earth's ability to radiate heat back to space. That is a simple fact. What is under debate still is whether the Earth has the ability to absorb the shock we are placing on the system, and all signs suggest that it does, up to a point. We are heading straight for that point, and far beyond.

Your head-in-the-sand approach, insisting on positive proof but never accepting that proof, seems far more likely to lead to the collapse of our civilization than a few easily-implemented CO2 controls. You shout about economic suicide without ever suggesting a means by which controlling CO2 emissions would amount to such. No one is suggesting a stone-age economy. Indeed I plan on living the same lifestyle that I would otherwise, but to take steps to reduce my CO2 emissions. I use nearly as much energy as the next guy, but I offset my driving, flight, and home emissions with carbon credit-- a market mechanism. Sure, the government creates the market, but that doesn't make it fascist.

You have enlightened me quite a bit as to the motivations of anti-global-warming people. You are so unwilling to accept a positive role of government in society that other big issues must die on your crucifix. Well, thanks to people like you, we've lost almost a decade of time in reducing our CO2 emissions, and each year makes the problem more expensive. If you got your way, you'd still be shouting "natural variability!" when the world's ice sheets are completely gone and sea levels are far higher.

You compare my demand for proof against human-induced global warming to that of atheists demanding the proof of God's existence. But your state of mind is far less defensible: even faced with stark evidence of the existence of human-induced global warming, you do and will continue to deny it. If you truly wanted to understand, you would ask real scientists, not political hacks writing anti-science tomes. Sure, scientists sometimes exaggerate their claims, but there are THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of lines of evidence that individually point to global warming, and you throw them all out for a few anecdotes.

I, too, am now finished with this farce of a debate. If someone showed me evidence against the global warming orthodoxy, I would accept it because I am a scientist. That's what we do. Nothing will convince your near-religious conviction that it does not exist, so true debate is impossible.

Oh, and I have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, for whatever strange reason you suggest that.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 14 September 2006 at 07:52 am

For anyone interested in hearing the latest talk about global climate science from some of the most prominent scientists in the field, visit RealClimate.org. The entries are grounded in published science, but are always well-explained. The discussions will show you that there certainly is scientific dissent within the community, but not about the reality of human-induced global warming.


Vivendi
Posted 14 September 2006 at 09:32 am

Comment #100!

Whew, took me awhile to read all the comments. Especially those extra long ones by Anthony :P


plowshare
Posted 18 September 2006 at 02:36 pm

Anthony, I've been extremely busy these last few days and hope you still look at this site, because I have a few difficulties with some of the things you wrote.

Anthony Kendall said:

1)"... The temperature proxy in the 650,000 year graph is indeed that 16/18 O ratio (oxygen isotope ratio, it's called). For that, the air trapped in bubbles in the ice core is sent through a mass spectrometer and analyzed for its isotopic composition."

The article which we are referring to here seems to say it is taken by using H2O molecules:

"The temperature proxy mentioned in the figure above is obtained by analyzing the composition of the ice itself, while the CO2, CH4, and NO2 all come from the trapped gases."
http://www.anthonares.net/2005/11/published-research-synopsis-modern.html

This seems to make more sense in the light of what you wrote about the ratio being affected by different rates of evaporation of H2O at higher temperatures .


plowshare
Posted 18 September 2006 at 02:57 pm

Anthony Kendall said: "Solar activity, i.e. sunspot activity and solar storms, are not directly linked to increased solar input. This has nothing to do with the amount of sunlight the Earth receives. The Earth now is not in a high point in terms of solar energy input, compared to say the Medieval warm period where 10% more solar energy shone on the Northern Hemisphere."

This was in response to a comment by NinerSevenTango that solar activity is at a current high point. On what is that 10% higher figure based? It doesn't seem to be based on Carbon-14 data because that was at an all-time high (for the last millennium) in this century:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Carbon-14_with_activity_labels.png

The graph ends 50 years ago and, from what I have seen, activity has been pretty steady since, with just those 11-year fluctuations.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Solar-cycle-data.png

Note that there are other things being tracked here besides sunspots.

Here is an analogy. Pluto has been getting further from the sun since its closest approach near the end of the last century. And yet it seems to be still warming up. That makes sense because it is still a lot closer to the sun than at its furthest, and it seems reasonable that it takes decades for the full effects of the sun's proximity to make an impression.

Similarly, the continued warming despite the steadiness of the sun's output could also be a delayed reaction to solar output being near an all time high. The only question is, how big a factor are greenhouse gases in all this?


rp2
Posted 18 September 2006 at 03:59 pm

It's Canada's fault.


Anthony Kendall
Posted 18 September 2006 at 05:52 pm

plowshare said: "The article which we are referring to here seems to say it is taken by using H2O molecules."

You are quite right on that point.

"On what is that 10% higher figure based?"

Good question. I know that I didn't just make the number up, but a quick search through some of the sites I was reading last week did not yield that number (or any other for that matter). I know that it didn't mean that the Sun's output increased by 10%, merely that 10% more energy fell on the Northern Hemisphere perhaps due to decreased reflection from clouds or something like that.

One thing to note on the whole sunspot->solar output linkage, just because something is closely correlated on an 11 year time scale does not mean that it varies over the long term in a similar fashion. A great example is some data that I was using for a hydrologic model a few weeks ago. Hourly windspeeds varied quite closely as a function of solar input changes throughout the day. But, over a longer time period, like weeks, windspeeds and solar input were entirely unrelated (though the daily sun-driven cycle was still there, it just does not show up in the averages).

So, sunspots may vary with solar output on the 11-year term, but longer term trends can show entirely different behavior. The same is true with the del 14C data. Those numbers are driven primarily by mass ejecta from coronal solar flares. Again, that may be correlated on the short term but not necessarily on the long term.

That's not to say that I don't think the Sun's output may have changed in a significant way that could contribute to climate change. But, the Sun's output has not increased in a fashion that can explain the changes in temperatures we see.

You make a good point about a delayed response of temperatures to solar input. The cause of this is thermal inertia of either the geosphere or hydrosphere or both, in the case of Earth. Our oceans have been soaking up heat as CO2 levels have increased, which is a large part of the reason global temperatures are only up by 1 degree C over the last century. But there comes a point where the Oceans slow their heat sponge effect, and the air temperatures will begin to rise more quickly.

"The only question is, how big a factor are greenhouse gases in all this?"

This is, in theory, a fairly simple calculation. Experimentally, you measure the absorption of energy due to increased CO2 in the atmosphere. This lab measurement will very preciself map to the real world. Then, you take the percentage difference in absorption and multiply it by "average" solar input. The result will be a number in Watts/square meter. Compare this number to the estimated increase in average solar input, and one could say exactly what the relative contribution should be.

Now, the real situation is more complicated because of the effect of aerosols and clouds, which are still not that well understood. As you may have heard, scientists recently have determined that atmospheric pollution, primarily sulfur-bearing molecules, have decreased solar energy inputs at the SURFACE by 20%. Additionally, jet contrails effect cloud development that reflect sunlight as well. Carbon dioxide does not prevent the escape of reflected sunlight, so the full greenhouse effect is most certainly not being felt. Ironically, our pollution may be saving us for the moment. Actually, there are some recent calls for injecting sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere where it cannot become acid rain but will still reflect sunlight.

Plowshare, I've enjoyed our discussions here. I hope that I've conveyed my impression that the science of global climate change is very complex, and that the best science is certainly wrong to some degree. But, the balance of research lies so heavily on the side of human-induced global warming that it would be imprudent to reject it. In light of that, as opposed to what Ninerseventango claims, I think that the burden of proof lies on the side of global-warming naysayers because of the tremendous cost of global warming. When the best and brightest minds have worked their entire lives to come to a conclusion for the benefit of mankind, rejecting that for what I think is largely a political convenience seems at best sheer folly and at worst an invitation to devestation.


LoveTheOnesYouNeed
Posted 25 October 2006 at 01:22 pm

I like how it says "Bacteria Nearly Destoyed Life". It still is...only this time it has arms,legs a head a cellphone,an SUV and a chip on it's shoulder the size of Montana. Just incase you can't read inbetween the lines,yeah I'm talking about humanity.


Tink
Posted 16 November 2006 at 01:54 am

DI artical & pretty rock picture. %-P


V-Blue
Posted 30 December 2006 at 02:58 am

amazing article. its probably the best theory about the earth's past yet


HiEv
Posted 11 February 2007 at 03:00 pm

praisingfool said: "The funny thing is…this is exactly what has happened in the Creationist/Evolutionist debates. Each "side" has the same evidence and the same facts. But each side is interpreting it in different ways.


From Dr. Ham: "Creationists and evolutionists, Christians and non-Christians all have the same evidence—the same facts. Think about it: we all have the same earth, the same fossil layers, the same animals and plants, the same stars—the facts are all the same.

The difference is in the way we all interpret the facts. And why do we interpret facts differently? Because we start with different presuppositions. ""

That's just wrong. Scientists didn't start from any "presuppositions" regarding those facts, they looked at the evidence and tried to find the best explanation for it. They then tested their hypotheses to see if they could be falsified and made accurate predictions. If a hypothesis didn't work then it was either modified until it did work or rejected for a better hypothesis. The hypotheses that survived rigorous testing and peer review then became working theories. Thus, the theory was made to fit the facts.

On the other hand, creationists started with their presuppositions, and would then proceed to reject or accept evidence depending on whether it fit their presuppositions or not. Carbon dating contradicts your presuppositions? Then carbon dating must be wrong! Forget the fact that there are various forms of carbon dating and other forms of dating that all have been shown to match up quite accurately when the appropriate tests are done. Nope, those facts are automatically rejected because they contradict the young Earth creationist point of view. Creationists start with a conclusion, and then try to shoehorn the facts to fit. The problem with that method should be evident.

Both groups may have the same information available to them, but the real difference is how they deal with the facts. Scientists modify their hypotheses to fit the facts, creationists twist or deny the facts to fit their presuppositions.

One other fact that shows that scientists aren't working from presuppositions is the fact that many of the details, such as the age of the Earth and the universe, how the universe is expanding, etc..., have changed as new facts came in. If they had been working from a presupposition, like Ham claims, then those things would have been set from the beginning. However, scientists are open to corrections. For a dyed-in-the-wool creationist though, no amount of contradictory facts will ever change their presupposed conclusion.

FYI- "Dr." Ken Ham isn't a doctor. He has two honorary doctorates, one from Temple Baptist College and one from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, other than that he just has a BS in Applied Science and a diploma of education. Honorary doctorates do not confer the title of "Dr." to your name.


dennis
Posted 27 July 2007 at 08:27 am

If evolution is true, then, DNA came together by random accident. No Creator/Designer.

But, no-one believes that. That's impossible.

The Truth is:

The Bible is true.

http://www.bible-codes.org

Since evolutionists want a way to theorize evolution , without any way to prove it,........they CLAIM that it took millions of years for it to happen,............

This way, no-one can TEST the theory.

The Bible doesn't say millions of years, ..........it says 6 days in the Creation Week. And God said "Everything was good!".............no death, no sickness, no murder, no lies, no trial-and-error-evolution, no stealing, no vote-buying, no bad people, no bad thing of any kind.

Adam and Eve were good people (sinless).


lars008
Posted 20 October 2007 at 09:44 am

like the bacteria, adapt or die,,, that is the real title of article,,,


voidwalker
Posted 30 October 2007 at 08:05 pm

This is written because i cant tell if your being sarcastic or not, the paragraph is a contradiction in itself because it obviously has little connection to reality. To those who want a reason, it is nonsensical because we all know that deaqth occurs, murder happens, its possible to lie,(Evolution ommited) its possible to steal, you can buy people(votes), and "bad" is not a singular definition, but is infinitly variable in meaning depending on person/mood/time period etc.

dennis said: "If evolution is true, then, DNA came together by random accident. No Creator/Designer."
Random Accidents are plausible reasons to explain events, and i'll actually elaborate, starting with an example we can all relate to. A multiple choice test is taken that is 10 problems long with 5 choices for each awnser. The chance of getting any combination of answers is 1/9765625(A 1/5 chance 10 times, correct me if this is inaccurate math). Of course, it's highly unlikely that any specific combination of answers will arise, but we can say that one must arive at one of these combinations. DNA is merely the answer that this planet has arrived at after taking a much longer and more complicated test. It can be said that it's unlikely that this specific type of genetic information happened to be created, but some type of life form had to be created with the capabilities to pass on genetic information, and DNA happened to be the way genetic information began to be stored, being merely one of the many combinations of awsners, special because its the one we arrived at. If DNA had not been created in organisms, the planet would continue its existance until some way to store genetic information was found and then the organisms who developed this system would be the ones to live on as a species, by passing on genetic information. Mutations would account for the ones who could reproduce(giving off its genetic information) and the ones who could not reproduce(died off). This just happens to be what evolution is.

But, no-one believes that. That's impossible."
Why does it have such an impact on society if it is not believed? What right do you have to speak on the behalf of every-one's beliefs? Random accidents(evolution) is, by definition, picking out out possibilities. You cant have an impossible random event.

The Truth is:"
Cant you back this statement up?

The Bible is true."
Cant you back this statement up?(Redundant)

www.bible-codes.org"
Heres one of the arguments in given webpage. "The appropriateness of where the bible code is embedded: It is found in a text that is in-and-of-itself a mysterious encryption, i.e., "The Writing on the Wall"! (Daniel.) This demonstrates that God does indeed reveal Himself, at times, in code." Gives no reason why god exsists, merely usues a single statement as proof for another statement without any explaination or basis.

Since evolutionists want a way to theorize evolution , without any way to prove it,……..they CLAIM that it took millions of years for it to happen,…………"
They CLAIM it took millions of years to happen because it couldint of happened otherwise, its not that they couldint find a way to prove it within a shorter period of time, its that is extrodinarily unprobable that it would all happen within a time duration we could experiment on. And FYI, check some of the big issues in health nowdays, bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics within a time period of about a hundred years since antibiotics were invented. Do an experiment, and you will find out why. The ones that have mutated genes that make them fit to survive do so and reproduce while others die out. Then the genes of the species in that population are much more likely to have certain traits that allow them to survive. An experiment in evolution that could be done if a week or two, maybe even less, considering the way bacteria grown. Same as evolution of species, just a shorter timespan.

This way, no-one can TEST the theory."
It can be tested, i just showed you how, if you want to disagree, do the experiment and get the results. Then either ignore them as well as me and my rational way of existance, let yourself realize that your previous belief was incorrect, or just pretend that the results were favorable to your theory.

The Bible doesn't say millions of years, ……….it says 6 days in the Creation Week. And God said "Everything was good!"………….no death, no sickness, no murder, no lies, no trial-and-error-evolution, no stealing, no vote-buying, no bad people, no bad thing of any kind."
Is this even worth bothering to awsner? Unfourtunatly, being an acedemic, i am compeled to give a reason to any retort I make to a statement, no matter how unreasonable said statement is. I'll just prove a section of it wrong(Im lazy) to prove that the paragraph as a whole is incorrect. Bad is an adjective whose meaning varies from time period to person, dependant on ones personal view with only rough a rough social outline of what it is. Even if the entire world thought that bad people/things didin't exist, as soon i thought of anything or anyone as bad, then the statement would be false. I think more that one person has thought that more than one time throughout human history. And if you want something less complicated, death should be an easy one for you to figure out. Oh, I forgot that I already made a retort on this earlier in my post, ill just leave this in anyway.

Adam and Eve were good people (sinless)"
Has no relevance to the article and little relevance to this post, as well as having no basis. Its not even possible for me to say it is wrong because it would imply that Adam and Eve actualy existed, and were just not good people(sinful). Of course, since i cant even prove whether or not they actualy existed at all, to say nothing of what types of people they were. Of course i dont belive in "sin" either,(You've probably guess that im not religous by this point) so I cant say that they(If Adam and Eve existed) werent sinless.

For those who just read this and think that any or all of these resons/retorts are idiotic, unreasonable, or inaccurate, please post and elaborate. TYVM


voidwalker
Posted 31 October 2007 at 03:00 am

And DI, for the article, got a little off topic.


n00bicide
Posted 29 December 2007 at 05:14 pm

just_dave said: "Early on, that was the goal of science; to explain the wonders of God's creation. But the problem as I see it with modern science is that most who practice it make a point of trying to explain God out of the equation entirely. It seems that every theory must explain everything with naturalistic causes, no matter how implausible the steps involved may appear. In many cases, like what is described in this article and anything else that involves theories that are thoroughly untestable and unprovable, the theory comes across as totally impossible; impossible that is without some sort of outside intervention.

Scientific theories (like evolution) may be untestable and unprovable but are at least based on evidence. However, the existence of God and his intervention in nature is also untestable and unprovable and is based on absolutely NO evidence.


HiEv
Posted 24 May 2008 at 06:36 pm

n00bicide said: "Scientific theories (like evolution) may be untestable and unprovable but are at least based on evidence."

Evolution is very testable, and has certainly been proved true in many ways. There is the fact of evolution, which is that allele frequencies in a species change over time. This has been repeatedly demonstrated in nature and in the lab. And then there is the scientific theory of evolution, which explains why and how certain traits appear. This theory makes many testable predictions, including a mechanism of heritability, which was unknown in Darwin's time, but was proven to exist when DNA was verified as that mechanism. And that's just one of the many testable and verified predictions of the theory of evolution.

If evolution wasn't testable, it wouldn't be science. Science requires testability.

n00bicide said: "However, the existence of God and his intervention in nature is also untestable and unprovable and is based on absolutely NO evidence."

Drop the word "also" and change "evidence" to "strong objective evidence" and I totally agree with this part. This is primarily why it isn't science.


OldCoot
Posted 23 August 2008 at 06:13 pm

Religious faith is wishful thinking, at best. A book written ~300 or more years after a supposed event, in an age of limited literacy and even less documentation other than word-of-mouth is bound to be not only fraught with myths but is known to be selective in its choice of "facts". Evidence has surfaced recently that "resurrection from the dead" was an "idea" promulgated before the "virgin birth" (really?) of the presumed founder of Christianity.

No, Dennis (#109), DNA did not happen as a "random event". It EVOLVED! That's why it took "millions of years". YOU do not have "any way to prove" that the earth was created in 6 days other than word-of-mouth legends. I confess that I do not know when the Jewish (non-Christian) writings that constitute the "Old Testament" of the Christian bible were written but the fact that they were incorporated into your bible speaks to the selectivity I refer to. Other "writings" that did not agree with the beliefs of the "powers-that-be", as the bible EVOLVED, were excluded! No, Dennis (#109) your God did not appear out of a cloud and hand to your church's ancestors the bible you hold infallible. It is one of many DIFFERING versions of a to-this-day-EVOLVING bible. That ought to tell you something! Moreover, yours is not the only religion that claims to be of omnipotent/divine origin. All of them do! I'm not referring just to Christian sects but also to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. That's what evolution is all about! BTW, what do you s'pose those female martyrs for Mohammed are looking to get when they do a suicide bombing, seven studs?


Brombachian
Posted 28 August 2008 at 03:23 pm

If the some of the smallest lifeforms on Earth are capable of changing the climate without even leaving the ocean/subteranean Earth, it sure does lend evidence to AGW, albeit anecdotal evidence but it does demonstrate that life is capable of changing the climate. Since humans are able to manipulate the environment more so than any other organism then the argument for AGW is even stronger.


Lakota
Posted 28 August 2008 at 07:13 pm

Im glad you ran this article again.
This is truely Damn Interesting.


Lakota
Posted 28 August 2008 at 07:16 pm

I want to add something to this too.
If there is no life on Mars. Do you think it is possible for Mankind to plant life on Mars? With Bacteria that might survive? This article made me wonder if this might be possible.


Joshua
Posted 28 August 2008 at 10:45 pm

Here's my two bits on the science/religion thing, which seems to have taken over and dominated this thread.

It seems to me that science and religion serve two quite different purposes. The purpose of science is to attempt to make sense of the world and universe in which we all live. The purpose of religion is to define a virtuous way of life, and more importantly to encourage said virtuous way of life by offering an incentive (e.g. a ticket to eternal paradise) to lead such a life, so strong as to trump whatever disincentives the real world has to offer.

The trouble here is that formal religion has been around in human civilization for a lot longer than has formal science. For most of early human history, the lack of formal scientific methods or institutions meant that religion had to pull double-duty, serving both to explain the nature of things and to promote virtuous living at the same time. No mystery, then, that many religions essentially conflated these two missions. So, to claim one's eternal reward, it was no longer enough to lead a virtuous life; you also had to believe in any manner and number of things that science did not yet exist to contradict.

Furthermore, even long after science took hold, the very nature of the religious incentive understandably made - and continues to make - devout believers reluctant to cede any topic to science that is already covered by religious teaching. It's basically a variation on Pascal's Wager: If, as a devout believer, you stick by your religion's teachings and shun science's, and science turns out to be correct, the worst that can happen to you is that your ignorance somehow gets you killed - but at least then you get your aforementioned eternal reward in heaven. But if you go the other way, you've just offended your deity by rejecting its teachings about the nature of things, and therefore run the risk of eternal damnation.

Alas, there is probably no quick and easy way around this dilemma, short of all the world's religions either (a) unequivocably ceding to science any and all claims to knowledge of nature or (b) disappearing from the face of the Earth, a la the Paleoproterozoic lifeforms mentioned in the article. I wouldn't hold my breath for either one.


Likeable Chris
Posted 28 August 2008 at 10:52 pm

Could we put some of these bad boys on Uranus and/or Neptune to Clear up some of the methane gases there?


Ard Ri
Posted 29 August 2008 at 10:19 am

Pagans!


Two Cents from Girth
Posted 29 August 2008 at 11:09 am

"New" research shows bacteria emit light signals by using illuminated molecules. This identifies nearby organisms and is thought to suggest a microscopic language of sorts. That may one day prove to be Damned Instersting too!


avolosin
Posted 29 August 2008 at 03:43 pm

That would be "Quorum Sensing." For those interested, Nova ran a neat little program on it:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3401/04-bact.html

Bacterilicious!


Fog of War
Posted 29 August 2008 at 09:49 pm

I know I'll probably get lambasted for bringing up the whole science vs. religion debate again, but with all the heated debate going on in the comments section, I have to give my two cents.

Look, I grew up going to church every Sunday in the deep South, with about 99% of my friends and confidants being deeply religious. The smartest and dumbest people I knew were religious. EVERY one was religious. I went to a small private school that was formed around the time of the civil rights movement (no coincidence) that NO African Americans attended, which is a little odd seeing as the population in that county and the surrounding counties was about 70% African American. The school and its teachers were nothing short of a system of propaganda when it came to teaching social sciences and sharing opinions. I have many lifelong friends who I will never disown, but are so brainwashed and ignorant it makes me sick. The true tragedy of this is that I am only 19 years old.

I don't know why, but I saw the huge flaw in this bubble world fairly early in life and was forced to keep my thoughts and objective opinions to myself for fear of being disowned by the people I knew. My resentment of the whole system continues to grow to this day. To the comments suggesting that neither religious nor scientific parties want to understand each other, I'm sad to say that this is many times the case. However, I feel that I have given the better part of my life in trying to understand the idiocy that my close friends and family subscribe to with the most noble intentions, and am here to say that I detest religion (not its followers).

I know this is a fairly broad statement based on little fact (at least that I can readily cite), but religion just seems to be an elaborate lie that rulers probably used to keep the lesser people of society in check through blind hope in an unprovable omnipotent being who will assure that they, the meek, will "inherit the earth". I see the hate for people of other beliefs that religion brews and want to puke. Just look at the recent internet and other media propaganda in the current presidential election that spawns from the fanatically religious. Fear breeds hate, and fear comes from lack of knowledge. This lack of knowledge and understanding has led to the worst human atrocities in the history of mankind.

Look, I wish the world could be completely free from the shackles of religion, but we are a long way from it. I have studied religion (especially Christianity) and know that there is NO WAY to convince those who believe in supreme, all-knowing beings that they are wrong once they are set in their ways. Again, I love and respect many people who are deeply religious, but I always feel that if they were completely honest with themselves, they would realize that their ideas conflict with fact and objectivity too much, revealing that religion is an impossible hope based on peoples' psychological need to create an artificial crutch to lean on when they cannot or do not wish to comprehend their situation fully and in reality.

But whatever, its not like I'm going to go on some extremely long rant about :).


OTOH
Posted 30 August 2008 at 03:15 pm

Bolens said: "Great article Alan!

And just a thought for anyone grasping white-knuckled onto their "old earth" (or "young earth") theories: Could not an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Entity create an earth as "old" as the Entity desired? Seems like it would be a simple matter for said Being."

Good point. The earth and it's occupants either evolved or some higher being went to a lot of trouble to make it look that way. The only reason why a "Creator" would create an "old" earth, would be if the "Creator" believed in evolution. So, creationists are either rejecting the truth OR a theory endorsed by their god?


Two Cents from Girth
Posted 31 August 2008 at 08:42 am

Fog of War #124,
There is a big difference in the institution of something and the actual field...
This inconsistancy plagues both the Secular and Non Secular alike. I will use both "worldly" bastions to illustrate my point. The most common and widely accepted place of academic learning is the University. These "hallowed" halls have professors lecturing on subjects and content with little or no accountability, their hall is their turf. The knowledge is required and is helpful once gleaned and refined from the "modern" bovine feculence. It is two different things, the University Academic program and the actual learning/knowledge aquired. The Academic world is corrupted, flawed and seriously overrated. The learning and knowledge aquired to be informed and knowledgeable is invaluable.
Now, the Institutions of Religon and Faith are two different things too. The Institutions of Religon are corrupt, fallable and are used as a social club. The monies gathered are rarely used to help those in need in the most efficient manner and if you dont bring your checkbook to Church, Salvation can look alot different. Individuals and ranks of Clergy have time and time altered a divine message to suit their corporial desires, the Institution reeks of its flaws both historically and as I write. However, the message that "someone" larger and more powerful Loves us and holds us with high value is indeed divine, enter Faith...this is not a televised concept or a social concept, it is personal, unique and exclusively yours. That is not up for grabs by any institution or mongering horde, yours simply... Faith is a response of the true divine and is not measured, regulated or administered by individuals and institutions, if you find that to be the case, identify it, learn its motives, announce it and then leave. You can have a strong Faith without attending, just like you can be no part of a Christian and hold down a seat every Sunday in Church. I like this one, standing in a garage does not make you a mechanic, but not having having a garage doesnt mean you cant fix things... (made the last part up myself!).
The difference between Evolution and Creation is difficult if you havent studied both and are a strict literalist of the Bible, in that case how did we get past Adam and Eve when no daughters were mentioned... so a staunch literalist needs to add a bit of flexability.
With the Bible being rewritten for language and content as many times as it has, I believe some of its credabilty is soiled by mans interference, but the message is and remains Divine. Just as when a new revelation in Science is unvailed and widely heralded doesnt always make it true nor new. Rememeber sponaneous generation, that was "the truth" incarnant for how many centuries??
The statement "Gods Creation of this planet" is either an affront or an acceptance, simple.
I had an Science ACT score landing me in the top 3% in the nation and I know God is the constructor, the two dont collide because God is the cause and will be the effect. The labels and processes we "correctly discover" are parts of Gods power and plan being uncovered and made known to man by processes we have used, bestowed on us by the great I am...
Now if "Gods Creation of this Planet", actually meaning "all things" is not in your chosen path of thought then you have alot to fill in and search for both within and without,; not saying one with Faith cant be a great explorer or have a heightened curiosity, just saying most will need to find plausible explanations in the world in which we live. So it is not really Religon vs Evolution, it is do you have Faith or not... With Faith, Evolution can still work fine accepting that God does work in mysterious ways... the other blasting and refined rationalisms are simply speculations and perceptions. I'd say you'd be far better off with your tested Faith than without it. Most non beliving academics and leaders dont attack the substance or actual content, they try to make a bridge or wedge between two thought processes and ask you to choose one or the other. They try to cloud the intigration of seemingly opposing thoughts, thereby sheltering a point of view in which sets them apart. Much like a children putting hands over their eyes and saying "Now you cant see me"... It is true the "Religous" Institutionns do that too in other areas. It is simply Faith when you get down to the root of it, either you believe in God or you dont. The big bang has its flaws too... if the Universe is expanding yet gravity draws things together in the seemingless weightlessness of space shouldnt the Universe be coming together after all these Billions of years and where is all this seemingless endless mass coming from when energy is neither gained or lost just changing shape??? Both models require Faith...or belief of sorts, but both can live and occupy the same space.
Hope this "theory" clears a few snags up.
What really gets me on the celestial level is what if our mass and size increase was acutually being drawn from another "area" which is compressing and shrinking, are we growing while an other "area" is shrinking, if so are we regulated by a finite push and pull mechanism much like a tide in which it takes billions of years to complete one cycle? Wow, that would make God really old huh? See the gist? That would make our big bang just one of many, like the breaking of dawn upon our eyes. (No drugs or Matrix reruns were used in the fabricating of this theroricical model, nor was spell check...)
Thanks,
Two Cents


Fog of War
Posted 31 August 2008 at 11:02 pm

An excellent reply Two Cents. I have met many of Faith who are some of the smartest people I know, and I am here to say that whatever you believe, if you believe it in the depths of your soul, then it is true. If someone has an extreme mental imbalance that causes them to believe they are a walking, talking glass of orange juice, then that is the truth for that person. Of course, there is no real ULTIMATE truth. People are open to changes in their truths all the time. There is nothing wrong with looking past the universe and making sense of it all by supposing an intelligent being created all that isl. It certainly is hard to explain it all without using that theory.
What really gets me is when people take something for a complete truth. Everything can be disputed when looked at from a certain point of view, but some people don't want to hear other opinions. That is why religion, not faith, is what I abhor. The idea of willfully closing one's mind to me is just frustrating.
When I sit back and look at the theory of an all-knowing being who created it all, I don't dismiss it as impossible, but I don't see how it should affect one's daily life. Now, I have a conscience like most people and am in loose agreement with the whole "what goes around comes around" karma theory, and I am not completely averse to the thought of something beyond death. I just get irked when a body of people tries to tell me how to live my life by a set of rules that somehow were beamed down by GOD to the minds and vellum of scholars to be spread and enforced throughout the world. It might be the Truth for those scholars and their devoted followers, but I have trouble when asked to adopt it as my own. Don't get me wrong, there are ideas in the Bible, Koran, etc that are deemed good by most, including myself, and can be accepted and used as guides to live a fulfilling life. But the true fulfillment is achieved by looking inside yourself and living the way you see best, with no regrets.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this: I don't approve of organized religion because no two people have the same values and "life-living standards". I'm not in complete disagreement with the whole "God completes the cosmos equation" idea, but if that is the only extent to which one believes in a God, then what the hell difference does it make? What I do believe in is the constant struggle to live happily (or with fulfillment). To be honest I think this can be done and achieved without the aid of a God.
I apologize if I rambled and made little sense.
I also apologize for not commenting in what a Damn Interesting! article this was. I mean, science truly is spectacular in how it manages to uncover the amazing history of our planet (or at least provide compelling evidence that we can all enjoy and talk about).


Bolens
Posted 01 September 2008 at 08:39 pm

OTOH said: "Good point. The earth and it's occupants either evolved or some higher being went to a lot of trouble to make it look that way. The only reason why a "Creator" would create an "old" earth, would be if the "Creator" believed in evolution. So, creationists are either rejecting the truth OR a theory endorsed by their god?"

Neither. (The ONLY reason? Come on... you can do better than just one reason... !)


Two Cents from Girth
Posted 02 September 2008 at 10:05 am

Fog of War,
I agree that a happy life is possible without faith in God or belief in a higher power. I also think that alot of lifes "mysteries" can be "solved" without the use of God. Unfortunantely, in my belief and faith "Hell is the truth discovered too late". Again it is a simple question of Faith... can you live and do as you please on this Earth without regards to God/ higher power etc.? I think absolutely...a person can live a life without any regard for God and still function. If the belief in God and the teachings are actually true, God will discard that individual as the individual did God... if not they are still dead, it is just the notion of eternity, that is all. Why have humans been building temples, shrines, establishing holy places all over the globe for thousands of years?? Primative superstitions? Even before our world shrunk, seemingly isolated peoples had established "higher power" being/beings... I find that constiancy among the human timeline and among several cultures a bit compelling apart from my own personal feelings. Was/is there exploitation within the heirarchy of religion, absolutely, is the notion of God to be dismissed then? Absolutely not...there are cultures and times in History when the religious leaders were among the Aristocratic and wielded great influence and were caught in the web of corruptions inherent to such power. There are also many instances where the leadership of religions were the first to be sacrificed and were the beggers of society.
So we can add all the latte logic and the modern high brow thought to dispell the foundations of God, but a good question is he can survive without us can we survive without him?
The flaw in Athesism is that a self professed Athiest believes that in all of the Universe and possibly beyond, there exists no possibility for a high power to exist...now doesnt that stretch beyond our known comprehensions and factual reality just a bit? True having Faith in God does too, but what is the downside to having lived a life with Faith? You die and that is it...The downside for an Athiest? An Eternity being in an unenviable place...all because some "enlightened" people could debate and make a point or two. Seem worth it?
So, yes, I would indeed keep an open mind to the ebb and flow of the religious debate but hold Faith close...
Girth


OTOH
Posted 05 September 2008 at 07:19 pm

Bolens said: "Neither. (The ONLY reason? Come on… you can do better than just one reason… !)"

OK, reason #2: He's a cruel and deceptive bastage that wants to trick open minded people into not believing so he can damn for eternity.


Dr. Baron von Evilsatan
Posted 10 September 2008 at 03:32 am

You can't prove or disprove the existence or nonexistence of the judeo-christian God. If He exists and is, as it says, actively hiding His existence, then nobody will ever be able to prove anything. You can't outsmart or overpower total knowledge and control. If He does not exist then it is, again, impossible to prove this. Unlike physical things, which have to exist somewhere, you can't find the place God would be if He existed and in doing so confirm or refute the case. There is evidence for each side, but all of the evidence requires that you already accept the premise for it to work, again making debate impossible except between people who have studied both perspectives in depth and thought about them, the exact sort of people smart enough to stay out of the fight.

It's entirely possible that God decided to Let There Be the earth into existence in the exact state it would be in if it had com about naturally. That's the thing about omnipotence, there's no impossible. By the same token, He could have elected to actually put the universe through the entire process of construction. Press the button at the start, watch everything go, push things here and there so they go the right way. Again, omnipotence. Or, He did nothing or doesn't even exist, and everything that happened just so happened to be what happened. There isn't any proof either way, and the very nature of this debate is that both sides have no proof and no means of ever gaining any whether or not they're right. I never got this need to debate something where it is simply not possible to ever win, particularly with the virulence both sides often display.

OTOH said: "OK, reason #2: He's a cruel and deceptive bastage that wants to trick open minded people into not believing so he can damn for eternity."

This statement demonstrates a rather complete lack of knowledge of all but one of the most fudnamental features of christianity. Basically, here's the history of the relationship between people and God.

God makes everything. Nobody knows why. You can't really speculate on the thoughts of a being infinetly more intelligent than yourself, who operates transtemporally.

People are made. There is a deal. Calling it a contract makes it easier to understand. People have been gifted existence, and everything, and things are great. In exchange, they have to obey one rule. They then proceed to break that one rule.

They've broken the contract. They didn't uphold their side, there is no longer a requirement for God to uphold His side. At this point, erasing all existence and going for round two would be a reasonable option. Anything less is a mercy, no matter how small. Since the plan seems to be, given everything we know of it, for people to live with God in perfection, he then decides that things will stay as they are more or less, but people can die now (and will), and He's going away, and things won't be as nice. Much less than erasing everything. There is still the avenue for people to come to God if they maintain that perfection, but nobody seems to be able to do it. Close as they come, nobody can. People can't help sinning.

It's probably important to dicuss sin here. It means doing something God told you not to do, or not doing something God told you to do. That is it. Any other meaning is not applicable here.

Eventually, God decides that He wants to do something about this. He does whatever He did to be in Jesus, and offers everybody who ever lives, lives, and will live the opportunity to have their sins taken away from them, meaning that they can go ahead with the live-with-God part of the plan. This offer is available to everyone. However, it is an offer, not enforced, and as such you have to choose to take it.

Long story short, you are in a default state of not-going-to-live-with-God-after-death. This is a fair state, given that you broke the deal that would have originally enabled this. That you are offered a chance to change this state is, in fact, a gift. Any claims that you are in a default state of going-to-live-with-God-post-mortem are not true, and in light of what happened, somewhat presumptuous, assuming that you deserve something, you earned something that you actually didn't.

Knowing the actual tenets of the faith, can you still claim God to be in some way harsh in His treatment of us?


OTOH
Posted 10 September 2008 at 06:16 am

People are made. There is a deal. Calling it a contract makes it easier to understand. People have been gifted existence, and everything, and things are great. In exchange, they have to obey one rule. They then proceed to break that one rule.

OK. People sin. Why do people sin? Because it is our nature. If "god" wanted us perfect, he should have made us that way. Why should we be the ones to be punished? We are only fulfilling our nature.

I don't believe in the god of the bible. However, if he exists, he is punishing us for HIS screw up. If he created us as imperfect beings, he has no right to demand that we be perfect (or lacking that perfection that we accept his "son" without offering us any logical reason for us to do so).

According to the bible, he is not just passively turning his back on his failed creation. He is actively punishing us. The bible doesn't say the unsaved will simply cease to exist at death (that could be considered fair), it says god will throw us into hell to suffer for eternity.


Silverhill
Posted 11 September 2008 at 10:28 pm

Dr. Baron von Evilsatan said: "People are made. There is a deal. Calling it a contract makes it easier to understand. People have been gifted existence, and everything, and things are great. In exchange, they have to obey one rule. They then proceed to break that one rule.

They've broken the contract. They didn't uphold their side, there is no longer a requirement for God to uphold His side."

If you go with the doctrine of Original Sin, you could argue thus, but I reject such guilt-by-association. I did not begin my life by rejecting the laws of a god with whose nature I could not yet have been acquainted. I was born an innocent, as are we all, so there was yet no "side" for me to "uphold".

Note that Original Sin is not explicitly Biblical; the Wikipedia article linked above mentions that "The doctrine of original sin was first developed in second-century Bishop of Lyon Irenaeus's struggle against Gnosticism."
And, the modern Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
"By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all human beings."
These are modern, or at least post-Jesus's-lifetime, developments of thought about the nature of man -- but they are not Directly From God. So, I regard them chiefly as human developments, subject to human interpretation, acceptance, and rejection.

"People can't help sinning."
I reject this too. Consider the Church's notion of the "virtuous pagan", and consider also that the exercise of free will need not automatically lead one astray from God.

"Long story short, you are in a default state of not-going-to-live-with-God-after-death. This is a fair state, given that you broke the deal that would have originally enabled this."
No. Again I say, I cannot have broken a deal of which I could have known nothing. Punishment for such "deal-breaking" is manifestly unfair, and unworthy of any god worth worshiping.

"That you are offered a chance to change this state is, in fact, a gift."
This is a good point, consonant with my discussion with a minister about this. I asked him, "How can a finite being (that is, a human) do anything that could merit infinite punishment?"
He answered, "How can a finite being do anything that could merit infinite reward, such as is offered by God?"
I contended that God can certainly offer disproportionate reward if it pleases Him, since a gift does not necessarily need any justification. But punishment does need justification, all the more so if it is to be infinite, and I see no such justification there.


Tim_2_some
Posted 12 September 2008 at 05:30 am

I remember seeing a documentary about snowball earth some years back. The theory was controversial at the time and a geologist lecturer at Uni didn't know much about it when I mentioned it.
Before the discovery of extremeophiles deep water vents were not touted as a source which would have sustained simple life forms during such a chilly spell. Even with their discovery it would seem unlikely they would have evolved to live in these conditions rapidly enough to survive by that source alone. The theory proposed was that at the equator the ocean ice would be 6-10meters thick (opposed to a mile thick which more than likely would be far inland. As snow compacts quickly (seasonal winter ice for example) the translucence of the ice is quite poor, frosted glass like. However over a much longer period as the ice accumulates the transparity of the ice increases to such a point that it is as clear as a poorly washed window. Unlike the grubby window the ice will allow UV to penetrate and thus ensure the survival of our great great x10E50 grandparents. Examples of such ice is seen by arctic divers regularly.
The theory hypotheses, that for the ice to melt the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would have to be quite significant (the snowball earth would reflect more sunlight back into space and be harder to warm, the very effect which contributed to the snowball earth), they proposed that simple volcanism would spew enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that the eventual build up would lead to a melting, when the melting did start it apparently happened quite rapidly, my time reference, "eventually"& "rapidly" is in geological time, comparable to an old woman reverse parking.

Apologies if these points were raised earlier, I simply couldn't bring myself to read though the "thats about it for God" or "migrating frogs are the reason behind climate change" arguments going back and forth.


Bill Austin
Posted 20 September 2008 at 11:13 am

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Your site has won a Blog of the Day Award (BOTDA)

Award Code

Thank you,


BenKinsey
Posted 30 September 2008 at 05:56 am

I think that this article was well written but it lacked damning evidence for the theory. I am not religious but this time I think they might have a point that this theory is baseless. The oxidated iron in the picture doesn't really prove anything to me. In no way does it convince me that the Earth is that old, not that I have a better idea of how old the Earth is or how our world as we know it came about. I am just saying that this evidence is more like a lack of. But, religious people, please don't think that it is God vs. science on every issue and if one can't be proven then the other automatically wins, that is foolishness.


pkonigsberg
Posted 07 October 2008 at 10:57 am

A biology teacher of mine one said "Life isn't here because Earth is a good place to live. Earth is a good place to live because life is here." It was interesting how "The survivors of the oxygen catastrophe eventually adapted to consume the abundant oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. This greenhouse gas very gradually made its way into the atmosphere, increasing in concentration and nudging temperatures back into the hospitable range over millions of years." So it would seem those survivors of life made the planet more hospitable for life again.


screwballl
Posted 08 October 2008 at 08:21 am

This goes to show that the planet adapts to the changes of its inhabitants. We can pump all this extra CO2 in the air which will increase plant life and growth rates thus balancing things out. BUT if we cut all of our CO2 production fairly abruptly, we could end up placing ourselves into another ice age because plants will be so busy removing CO2 as it has for the past few hundred years and putting out oxygen that the greenhouse effect is reversed.


Mirage_GSM
Posted 09 October 2008 at 01:04 am

You need to revise your definition of "aprupt" to geological timescales.
What we've been doing for the past several decades (and probably will continue to do for some decades more) is apruptly release large quantities of CO2, that it took "the planet" millions of years to convert to coal and oil.
Even if the planet were able to adapt to this in just a few decades (those things ussually happen over hundreds of millenia) we've also been deforesting huge areas not just over the last decades but in this case centuries, so if anything "the planet's" capability of counteracting has been diminished.


HiEv
Posted 09 October 2008 at 11:06 am

Two Cents from Girth said: "The flaw in Athesism is that a self professed Athiest believes that in all of the Universe and possibly beyond, there exists no possibility for a high power to exist... now doesnt that stretch beyond our known comprehensions and factual reality just a bit?"

That's a straw man argument. I'm an atheist (note that it is not capitalized because atheism is not a religion), and I don't deny the possibility of a "higher power"-type creator to exist, I merely deny the probability. The burden of proof lies on those who claim that some god, goddess, or gods exist to provide strong objective evidence supporting their claims. So far I have not yet found any such evidence for any gods, thus it is reasonable to believe that they do not exist. I'm open to the evidence, and believe me, I've looked at a lot of so-called "evidence", but so far I haven't seen anything particularly convincing. Most of the "evidence" comes down to flawed logical arguments and worthless anecdotal claims.

Two Cents from Girth said: "True having Faith in God does too, but what is the downside to having lived a life with Faith? You die and that is it..."

Actually, no, that isn't it. How about a life wasted believing in something that doesn't exist? Wasting time, money, and effort in the support of doctrines based not in a wise superbeing, but in ignorant and prejudiced human beings who lived thousands of years ago seems like a pretty bad downside to me.

People have used religious faith to support misogyny, homophobia, slavery, witch hunts, wars, and even the Holocaust, to name a few things. All due to blind religious faith. That is the downside to misplaced religious faith.

Two Cents from Girth said: "The downside for an Athiest? An Eternity being in an unenviable place..."

This assumes that the god/goddess/gods that do exist in that scenario punish all atheists. Many assume that their god is a bit more merciful than that, and actually cares whether the person is a decent human being or not, instead of simply being a worship-demanding prima donna.

I'm sorry, I don't see your argument for accepting religious faith as being particularly persuasive.


sid
Posted 09 October 2008 at 09:55 pm

HiEv said: "That's a straw man argument. I'm an atheist (note that it is not capitalized because atheism is not a religion), and I don't deny the possibility of a "higher power"-type creator to exist, I merely deny the probability.

According to the American Atheists website, Atheist and Atheism are capitalized. Some other reference sites do not capitalize, others do. It's not exactly written in stone. But the American Atheists state "there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be." To them, at least, it is absolute. You sound more like an agnostic, if you are leaving open the possibility of a "higher power," while still stating you feel it improbable.

The burden of proof lies on those who claim that some god, goddess, or gods exist to provide strong objective evidence supporting their claims.

You clearly don't seem to comprehend the concept of faith.

So far I have not yet found any such evidence for any gods, thus it is reasonable to believe that they do not exist. I'm open to the evidence, and believe me, I've looked at a lot of so-called "evidence", but so far I haven't seen anything particularly convincing.

Throughout history there are countless examples of theories that lacked conclusive evidence to convince skeptics. Most theories take years or decades to "prove." Some took far longer. You say,

Most of the "evidence" comes down to flawed logical arguments and worthless anecdotal claims.

What about the other "evidence" not covered by your qualifier "most"?

Actually, no, that isn't it. How about a life wasted believing in something that doesn't exist? Wasting time, money, and effort in the support of doctrines based not in a wise superbeing, but in ignorant and prejudiced human beings who lived thousands of years ago seems like a pretty bad downside to me.

Who are you to decide what is a "life wasted"? People of faith regularly do incredibly good things to benefit their fellow man. Most acts are based on the foundings of their particular faith. But because you don't share their beliefs, you feel they have lived a "life wasted." MLK, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and Father Flanagan (just to name a few famous ones), not to mention the countless number of people you've never heard of who do good deeds on a regular basis, all live or have lived a "life wasted." I'm not really sure how to describe such a view.

Besides, in your existence where there is nothing after death, who cares if someone lives a "life wasted"? It cannot be considered truly "wasted" until it is done, and then, it is done. If people like you consider the "life wasted," why should the dead person care? You have absolutely no impact on him anymore. There cannot be a "life wasted," as there is no point in judging it once it is over. It may make you feel good to pass judgement on the quality of someone's life, but in the big picture of your existence, that means absolutely nothing.

People have used religious faith to support misogyny, homophobia, slavery, witch hunts, wars, and even the Holocaust, to name a few things. All due to blind religious faith. That is the downside to misplaced religious faith.

And many others have used faith to promote making the world a better place. Feel free to condemn those who abuse their faith, but don't paint everyone with your rather broad brush. I believe Girth was talking about faith, not misplaced faith. Talk about a straw man argument.

This assumes that the god/goddess/gods that do exist in that scenario punish all atheists. Many assume that their god is a bit more merciful than that, and actually cares whether the person is a decent human being or not, instead of simply being a worship-demanding prima donna.

Your open hostility towards faith seems rather consuming. That's unfortunate. Most faiths likely do encourage being a "decent human being." I'm not an expert in the field. But I'm also guessing that along with being decent, they require a certain belief in the core principles.

I'm sorry, I don't see your argument for accepting religious faith as being particularly persuasive."

Of course not. You do not want to believe. But your arguments are hardly convincing. Something clearly happened in your life that soured you to faith. I hope that changes, but you first have to get to the point where you are willing to entertain the concept that faith may actually be a good thing. All I'm getting from your post is that you feel faith is either bad or a waste of time.


Mirage_GSM
Posted 10 October 2008 at 03:50 am

HiEv said: "People have used religious faith to support misogyny, homophobia, slavery, witch hunts, wars, and even the Holocaust, to name a few things. All due to blind religious faith. That is the downside to misplaced religious faith."

As much as I usually agree with your posts, the Holocaust is not something one can reasonably blame on religion. The Nazis were comitting murder against adherents of a religion and the church could have been more vocal in their protests (understatement), but they themselves were not religious.
sid said: "You clearly don't seem to comprehend the concept of faith."

You don't need to provide proof for yourself to believe. That's what faith is for.
However if you want to convince others and they don't want to rely on faith, then it is up to you to provide the proof.
sid said: "But the American Atheists state "there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be.""

Please note, that this definition also does not deny the possibility of a creator. It just limits the creator to the state of a natural being. It might be interesting to learn their exact definition...


sid
Posted 10 October 2008 at 09:21 am

Mirage_GSM said: You don't need to provide proof for yourself to believe. That's what faith is for.
However if you want to convince others and they don't want to rely on faith, then it is up to you to provide the proof.

True, to a certain extent. There must, however, be some acceptance of faith in order to make a believer. You can talk all you want to someone about certain scientific theories, showing all the evidence, testing, research, etc., you want. But none of that will make any difference if, at the core, the person does not accept or believe in the scientific method.

Please note, that this definition also does not deny the possibility of a creator. It just limits the creator to the state of a natural being. It might be interesting to learn their exact definition…"

Again, that would seem to be true. I'd be interested in hearing theories about this "natural" creator. From what I can tell, most Atheists do not believe in the possibility of a single entity as being the "creator." If there is a "single-entity-from-nature-creator" theory, I'd be interested in reading about it. But it seems here, HiEv differs in the standard Atheist viewpoint, based on the reference to the possibility of a "higher power"-type creator. I presume the term "higher-power" refers to something outside the bounds of nature. That's why I think HiEv is better classified as an agnostic. But perhaps I am misreading that part.


Mirage_GSM
Posted 13 October 2008 at 01:36 am

Again, that would seem to be true. I'd be interested in hearing theories about this "natural" creator.

Well, if you're interested in my humble opinion (I wouldn't call it a theory):
I'd classify myself as an atheist, but:
a) I do not believe humans are the only intelligent species in the universe.
b) Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic (miracles).
So I think it is possible that someone with access to sufficiently advanced technology would be able to create intelligent life - maybe by means of more or less planned evolution - on a planet and thus be classified by said intelligent life as "god". I don't think it likely that this happened here on earth and this would still necessitate that the "creator" evolved somewhere by natural means and developped his own intelligence.
I wouldn't ascribe the big bang to any creator, because that would imply technology more advanced than I care to ponder.


Two Cents from Girth
Posted 13 October 2008 at 04:21 pm

Wow! Some great theories and points from the previous posters both pro and con...
Again, I would agree that a level headed approach to Science and Religon need be applied.
I would also agree abuses on both sides of these two issues exist in abundance. What I expect from people I choose to associate with in "Religion" and "Politics" is a grasp of the content without having to resort to the cheap or overblown. I find alot of our contributors stay within that realm, another reason I enjoy DI. It is the mix of these ideas that strengthen us intellectually, not the irrational, dishonest, mudslinging that seems to coat our media and public forums. I appreciate people with differing views and enjoy the debate between the issues, it keeps us thinking of both sides of the coin and reminds us the grass is rarely greener...
HiEv #140: As it was mentioned before, your view and what you described as Atheism seems to blend into something else like Agnostic??? As far as Straw Man arguement, the logic of the assumption is not based in my Faith but in the absence of a "Creator" in the Atheists' core of beliefs. I am not supposing anything other than what the Atheist themselves say... In so many words they say at their core they believe that there is no "God/Creator" and have structured a life that includes that concept. So, they have in fact ruled out the possibility that no "God" exists... meaning no "God" exists anywhere. Your right, it does seem like straw doesnt it? Would it not be more open to say I have found no direct/tangible proof to convince me that a "God/Creator" exists, but I am open to the possibility of there actually being a chance somewhere in this vast Universe or beyond for such a "Creature" to exist. The classic Atheist has closed the book on any chance of a "God" form existing and then still claims to be an open minded, higher thinking person?... I did not mention anything about having to like or embrace that "God" character, simply outlined the chance that there may in fact, somewhere, actually exist!
What a concept... It is like another belief of mine, the UFOs...(now, dont walk away yet! :)) I have a hard time believing when I look up at the sky that there is no intellegent life up there somewhere on any of those tiny dots...yet, I hesitate when asked do you think "they" are here. My answer is usually "could be" followed by some Girth blah, blah, blah until I see their eyes glaze over :) That is the crack in the door I am saying with Athiests, it is not straw my learned friend, it is Hope. My Hope is that God can make everyone aware of the divine presence whether thru an event, a friend or just by walking down the street looking at leaves turning colors. From what I have heard, it is a different kind of life learning that God is with us. I was raised in the Church and since my earliest memories I can remember Faith, I have been in the dark places but have emerged with new insight to both sides of the coin, at a cost of course. I will be the first to agree that a building full of "Christians" is at times responsible for the worst politics and behavior imaginable. There is a standard we fall short of, for my part I appologize. I also know many abuses have been carried out in the name of a/the one true God. All I can say is "God" had nothing to do with that, again, the corruption of man. A misplaced Faith...really?? Sounds like a good catch phrase for a bad bet at Vegas... not a personal belief that guides someone to do good others and themselves throughout a lifetime. Misplaced? Really? I dont see it... Now, before you fly off, I will tell you that being decieved is alot different than a misplaced Faith. I like you believe many millions of people have been douped into supporting an action that went terribly "a rye" :) and have had to carry the shame of their lack of vision. But dont you see, those are things of mans corruption, not "Gods".
As far as the concept of "People have used religious faith to support misogyny, homophobia, slavery, witch hunts, wars, and even the Holocaust, to name a few things. All due to blind religious faith. That is the downside to misplaced religious faith." Neither Religion nor Faith was the true basis for any of those conditions...good cover story and albiet a contributor but what you are actually refering to are things like economics, greed, fear, hate, overpopulation, corruption, a break down in values, ignorance laced with a ration of eloquence to create a new label for an old condition...spare intellegent people on both sides of the coin the worn out and porous arguement of the Religion scapegoat dogma, man has a bounty of dark tendancies and needs not the endorsement of Religon to commit such acts; please reevaluate your premise this is not a Faith based issue.
Whether you accept or view my arguements on Faith/Religious Faith as being persuasive or not is of course your personal right and within your own realm. What I am conveying to you is that there is a difference between Faith/Religious Faith and Religon including its Institutions... the two are very different.


jakob
Posted 19 November 2008 at 11:51 am

Is it possible to filter out all off-topic religous comments on this site?, so that all of us living in modern scientific societies don't have to read them. (I prefer not having to read obvious repetitive arguments against the existence of the easter bunny nor wacky indications of said bunny)


Suchros
Posted 04 January 2009 at 01:09 pm

jakob said: "Is it possible to filter out all off-topic religous comments on this site?, so that all of us living in modern scientific societies don't have to read them. (I prefer not having to read obvious repetitive arguments against the existence of the easter bunny nor wacky indications of said bunny)"

2nd. I see no point in reading that crap-I was interested in real comments and got disappointed with the spam. Please move that religious/science combat where it's OK (where-ever that is I have no clue). Please do this to every article and state it's REDIRECTED to where it belongs. To each article its own place so they don't... naah who am I kidding they'll just spam more crap.


Two Cents from Girth
Posted 04 January 2009 at 01:46 pm

jakob,
Marginalize and limit your own preferences...the modern scientific age isnt 100% so spare me the generic high high brow censorship of the "open minded". If you read in your liberal profile, you will find catch words like acceptance, patience and diversity...apply them. It is amazing the open minded fought against censorship, now some wish to invoke it to suit there own image. How many times in History has that happened, I wonder... Sorry, you may not always get the intellectual food you want here, nor do I... tough!

Suchros,
The religious/science combat is actually a series of well formed points and discussions. If you want to see combat there are many who can assist you. I realise this is probally not your native language, but I would ask who are you to 1st, 2nd or 3rd against a basic right of expression??? The point of REDIRECTED is vaguely valid in the sence that just about every one of these articles spurs on tangents which can be traced back to the start. If you and your 1st are looking for a totally scholarly sight that may have more structure, you may want to check with the Yale data base, it is a great source of discussion and has a superior library.
As for your spam and crap comments, you already know where I'd redirect them if we ever saw combat...


zephyrr
Posted 17 March 2009 at 02:41 pm

NinerSevenTango said: "Science tainted by politics is as dangerous as science tainted by mysticism.

One aspect I find interesting is that the underlying premise of most current theories is that the earth's climate is governed by positive feedback mechanisms.

Actually, all current global climate models include both positive and negative feedback mechanisms, each modeled and calibrated as well as the modeler can manage. However you are correct that the larger concerns are naturally about the positive feedback mechanisms, and to be more precise the feedback operating in timescales relevant to humans. For example, a carbon sequestration feedback loop that takes many thousands of years to reach equilibrium is not much help for the problems of the next dozen decades.

This means that the climate is inherently unstable, tending towards increasing divergence

This is way oversimplified. As mentioned above, there are various feedback loops with different signs and timescales. A given feedback loop may also have saturation points, after which it no longer increases its influence (the ability of vegetation to incorporate additional carbon dioxide may be limited by water and other nutrients, limiting one negative feedback; the decreased albedo from melting polar ice can only increase until all the ice is melted, limiting one positive feedback). Combining these non-linear feedbacks produces a state space with varying degrees of stability and instability in different regions of that state space; the situation is not characterizable in terms of a single stable/instable condition. The science is very complex. Global climate models attempt to integrate all of these to predict short term climate changes (ie: on the order of decades).

Let me put it in simpler terms: the concern some have about "tipping points" comes from an analysis that suggests that we could move out of one relative stability basin into a different basin. You are essentially misunderstanding climate science to assert that climate is ALREADY and has ALWAYS been at the apex of a tipping point where the least breeze could go either way. That was never asserted!

And yes, current science seems to indicate some important degrees of amplification of effects in the human timescale if the forcing is sufficient and most modelers believe that anthropogenic climate forcings are already triggering some dangerous positive feedbacks. I do not think there is scientific consensus on where the tipping points are.

Like a man walking a tightrope, the slightest impulse could cause a divergence that would wipe us out. If this premise is accepted without question

No climate scientist would accept such a grossly oversimplified and misleading characterizaton., so you can completely relax about that. You are, perhaps innnocently, grossly exaggerating and making a strawman argument.

then it is easy to follow on with the conclusion that the enlightened among us should be entrusted with the power of controlling economic activity, and more to the point, controlling individuals' access to energy, in order to spare us the possibility of releasing too much of whatever we use and thereby annihilating the planet.

I take your point - that some might make an argument that the crisis is so grave that totalitarian measures must be implemented "on our behalf", and unlimited power must be granted to an enlightened few, overriding the democratic majority. That would indeed be a dangerous path and I would join in opposing it.

But in truth I see no serious political viability for that approach - it's more of a paranoid fantasy of the worst possible case, political science fiction. The responses of most governments are underwhelming, lagging rather than leading the popular democratic will. Measures that have been proposed have been democratically debated and modified and stalled and implemented and renegotiated, etc.

Remember that no side is immune to alarmism. The risks of global warming can be overstated; so can the risks of politically trying to mitigate such.

But the orthodoxy in politicized science is as strong as religious orthodoxy has ever been.

This appears to be no more than unsupported hyperbole. As one salient measure of strength of orthodoxy, I haven't so far seen many public executions of dissenting scientists, as religious orthodoxy has been documented to manifest. In fact, I don't even see any evidence of mass firings, or the impoverishment of dissenting scientists. It's not exactly hard to find dissenting voices to AGW!!

Yes, there is some social pressure to conform (scientists are human too), but it's rather weak compared to religious orthodoxy; and in science the pressure to conform is balanced by the pressure to stand out from the crowd. The path to mediocrity in sciences is to conform; but the path to the top is to diverge WITH the evidence to back it up. Nobody gets a Nobel by confirming the scientific orthodoxy. Nor by dissenting without the substance to back it up.

One thing many folks don't realize about science is that there are more graduates looking for jobs than there are permanent positions in pretty much any pure science, whether climatology or astrophysics. They vie with each other to get a post-doc position and a chance to make enough of a name for themelves to compete for a permanent position. So there are lots of bright, capable folks who will be squeezed out every year - and who have no incentive NOT to buck the current orthodoxy, because there's no seat waiting for them on the orthodoxy bus, and no golden parachute offered them to "keep quiet" while they seek a job in industry instead of research or academia. They are free to shake some trees while proving themselves, publish a radical paper and make that name for themselves that WILL get them a good job in science - IF they can back it up. Or later in their career - a nobel prize or other award.

Pretty much any scientist the public can name has shaken up the scientific orthodoxy and been rewarded for it. That science has some orthodoxies or fads or conventional thinking is unsurprising - so does politics, economics, religion, art, music. What's remarkable about science is the mechanism by which orthodoxies are successfully challenged.

Religious orthodoxy doesn't have this same dynamic, of a continual pressure to diverge from the crowd in order to succeed big. The equivalent would be: while it's true that parish priests are often rewarded for adhering to the church's orthodoxy, the only way to get to be a respected and influential bishop or cardinal is to challenge the orthodoxy; only apostates and heretics make it to the top. Hardly! The reason is: scientific mavericks can use objective evidence to support their heretical views and with that eventually win out even over the current top authorities in the field. Religious orthodoxy doesn't have this "reality feedback" edge that allows heretical Samson's to overcome orthodox Goliath's. It really just isn't possible to win a theological argument with the Pope through presenting better evidence.

[Those in the field who get their paychecks from other people's taxes know better than to question the orthodoxy; anyone else who would question it is marginalized, isolated, ridiculed, and ultimately ignored into oblivion.]

Do you consider that characterization to be an axiom based on faith or a hypothesis subject to examination and evidence? Let's assume the latter.

Stated more clearly, you are in essence hypothesizing that the bulk of the world's climatologists are being pressured by virtually all of the the worlds governments (communist, capitalist, or hybrid partially socialized capitalisms; from various cultures and religious backgrounds; cooperative or competitive with each other for resources) to conform to a world wide orthodoxy regarding climate science. This include governments like the US under the early Bush administration, which politically opposed the anthropogenic global warming concept. Either the Bush Administration was secretly in collaboration with all the other world governments (at least among those that support science) and only *pretending* to be against AGW for public consumption while really enforcing the orthodoxy; or the science establishment (NCAR, the national labs, NASA, the National Academy of Science, etc) had such power that even the Bush adminisration was unable to assert control over it's own budget dollars. And not just in the US - the Royal Society in the UK was also part of this global scientific orthodoxy, along with the national academies of most of the world. We wind up with three basic scenarios:
1) All of the major world governments are secretely colluding to force their climate scientists to pretend that AGW is real through the power of the paycheck and no significant group of scientists are able to buck this pressure (only a few isolated ones), or
2) The world science establishment in effect writes their own paychecks and no democratic or totalitarian *government* in the world dares cross them or expose their secret agenda, or
3) There really is a fairly strong scientifically based consensus formed through the normal channels of scientific debate and peer reviewed literature, with varied degrees of support or opposition by various governments.

I find the third alternative more plausible. The former two tend to raise questions which can only be answered by continually expanding the size of the secret collusion to hide the secret collusion to hide the secret collusion.

This does NOT rule out any effects of scientific orthodoxy; I completely believe that some such effects exist. It takes stronger evidence to publish something which contradicts currently accepted norms - extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It just suggests that invoking scientific orthodoxy is not sufficient to explain the observed degree of demonstrated world-wide general consensus within the relevant scientific communities. It is not 100%; there are a number of qualified scientific dissenters. But there is a remarkable preponderance.

With these two thoughts in mind, I ask the readers here to consider what kind of power would be given to a government that could throttle the access to energy of its citizens.

Um, exactly the same power that's given to a government that could punish duly convicted criminals among its citizens, or levy taxes, or subsidize research, or build bridges, or fight wars, or enforce borders. That is, all the democratic and judicial constraints must apply, as they do to any exercise of state power. Of course matters involving energy or environment need the same safeguards. So what's your point?

And please question what kind of knaves should be given this power.

Huh? Basically the voters, within the constraints of the relevant governmental charter or constitution, are the only ones to be entrusted with such power - to exercise or to restrain from exercising. There is inherent potential for abuse in any power, that cannot be avoided; all we can do is try to create negative feedback loops (remember those?) to reduce the likelihood of persistent abuses. The core concept of democracy is those who will be governed by laws should have the final control over the laws which govern them. A tyrant can squeeze the peasants until they starve or mistreat them until they nearly prefer to die because he can keep himself apart from the people so affected and their loss can be his gain; but a people as a whole gain not in doing such injury to themselves. It's not perfect (there are time delays and incomplete information flaws for example; and there must be safeguards against a majority doing injustice to a minority) but what better negative feedback loop can you suggest for avoiding abuse of power?

[Perhaps we could ask some politically incorrect questions along the way.]

Yep. Just remember that it's not only one's opposition that has political correctness or sacred cows. Let's try a thought experiement. It's extremely "politically incorrect" to question whether free markets continue to be the best mechanism for human resource allocation in all human scenerios for example. That market based approaches are best is an excellent example of a political orthodoxy, which in some countries is stronger than scientific orthodoxy. (I'm not taking any position on that at this time, by the way, just using it as a potent example that many people find it easier to see other people's sacred cows as such than their own. One's own sacred cows are "axioms obvious on face value to any rational observer", while other people's sacred cows are superstitions and misguided beliefs).

Would someone like to venture an argument in support of the positive feedback premise?

See above. The rather complex issue of interacting and saturatable positive and negative non-linear feedbacks has extensive and ongoing research. The idea that AGW is based on a simple "positive feedback" concept is false and would be considered far too scientifically naive to be published even if it supported "the orthodoxy". Your insight that such a system would have already diverged due to inherent instablity is correct - but the scientists are completely aware of that already and are literally generations beyond that simplistic level of analysis in their current efforts. You are going to need to do a lot more study to catch up before you can formulate a question which really highlights the areas which are still in true scientific dispute. There *is* legitimate scientific debate on AGW, but it's far more nuanced than that.

Zeph


hibscuscontinment
Posted 15 April 2009 at 03:36 pm

I felt so strongly about your article on sociopaths which was the first result on google that I followed the tortuous route to the first instance where i could provide a comment. You clearly exhibit the characeteristics of such a person that you simplistically and misleading expound. Somebody please save us from people like you.


tednugentkicksass
Posted 15 April 2009 at 05:21 pm

hibscuscontinment said: "I'm dumb. (Or something similar)"

??????
I'll agree with you this far: Alan Bellows is obviously a sociopath... why else wouldn't he give us new stuff to read. He's clearly mad. MAD, I tell you!!

Now , to why I dislike your comment.
A. Damn Interesting does not, at any point, claim to be a medical journal of any sort. Any information given is for entertainment, not for diagnosing illnesses of any sort.
And
B. It's pretty easy to comment on articles here. (I'm barely smarter than a trained monkey and I can do it)

First of all, you may want to go the correct article. The comment box is below the article, below the comments, right here where I'm currently typing.

Secondly, you may want to make an actual point (it's not really required... I seldom do).

Thirdly, you may want to try writing with words and phrases that are within your grasp. Nothing is sadder than a third-grade intelligence trying to use sixth grade vocabulary. Your first sentence is also in dire need of some punctuation.
(I understand that this entire comment is pretty pointless and mean-spirited... when did I become such a jerk?)

On a side note, why am I even replying to this? Damn Boredom... that's why.


pagiepoo
Posted 16 April 2009 at 05:42 am

The article was great :)


pagiepoo
Posted 16 April 2009 at 05:46 am

ok the only reason why i am replying to all of this is because im bored but the article was great


julia
Posted 18 May 2009 at 12:26 am

spam deleted


Mirage_GSM
Posted 18 May 2009 at 07:15 am

1. Does this have anything to do with the topic?
2. This link looks very spammy.
3. Procuring the services offered by this link can get your account banned.
4. They're located in Paris.


adam r
Posted 29 May 2009 at 01:49 pm

"Second of all, I am quite religious AND I believe every word in this article. The truly faithful know that science and God do not clash. (and no, I don't want this to sound like I am preaching here, merely defending myself) I for one, believe that science is good for revealing more of how God really works"

wake up will you,you are going to die and religion will disapear as humans evolve,and people become better educated ,yes evolution will take care of religion believe me,how can you say this is god`s work when it clearly states in your bible that god created adam and eve???!! what planet are you people on? stop and think about what you are saying just for once in your life.....you religious people really hack me off,your all in denial. WAKE UP!!


123456789_0
Posted 10 July 2009 at 06:00 am

. He could easily answer her questions regarding his childhood and early adult years.His iq power is 145. His iq is less than his driver...

..............................................................Thanks for all................................................... ..............................


123456789_0
Posted 10 July 2009 at 06:01 am

Second of all, I am quite religious AND I believe every word in this article. The truly faithful know that science and God do not clash. (and no, I don't want this to sound like I am preaching here, merely defending myself) I for one, believe that science is good for revealing more of how God really works"

wake up will you,you are going to die and religion will disapear as humans evolve,and people become better educated ,yes evolution will take care of religion believe me,how can you say this is god`s work when it clearly states in your bible that god created adam and eve???!! what planet are you people on? stop and think about what you are saying just for once in your life…..you religious people really hack me off,your all in denial. WAKE UP!!


Mirage_GSM
Posted 11 July 2009 at 12:34 am

123456789_0 said: "...you religious people really hack me off,your all in denial. WAKE UP!!"

And be careful! There's crockodiles in denial!
*ducks and runs for cover*


erikmartin
Posted 11 September 2009 at 04:28 am

AN IRRATIONAL FIXATION ON A BELIEF IS NOT SCIENCE.

Hysterically trying to answer every mystery of the earth's climate with "GREENHOUSE GASES! GRENNHOUSE GASSES!" in contravention of the evidence only stands in the way of scientific progress and discovery.

We know now that around the onset of Snowball Earth, the oxygen concentration in the atmosphere was not greater than around 2 ppm http://www.pnas.org/content/102/32/11131.full). We also know that the oxygen in the ocean was creating catastrophic changes in its chemistry. No reasonable investigator should be fixated on the 2 ppm of oxygen in the atmosphere, where the oxygen in the ocean is where all the action is going on. Even if you assume that the oxygen levels were sufficient to bring down methane levels faster than they could be sustained, it would take a destruction of 90% of the total greenhouse gas (most of which is now and probably was then water vapor, which oxygen is not going to destroy) to equal the climatic effect of a mere 10% change in the ocean albedo. And the action was going on IN THE FREAKING OCEAN.

All three major global glaciations happened during the three massive oxygen spikes. These were also the times of deposition of massive amounts of Banded Iron Formations (again an ocean process mediated by oxygen). The last two of these global glaciations only happened 75 million years apart, which by itself should eliminate the methane destruction theory. 75 million years is not nearly enough time for enough methane to accumulate again to suffer another "catastrophic collapse" from the generation of more oxygen.

Here is a good graphic of the three major global glaciations (though we now know that the atmospheric oxygen estimates in the chart for the paleoproterozoic are too high): http://www.snowballearth.org/slides/Ch1-3.gif


shine2rust
Posted 04 October 2009 at 05:24 pm

This is one of the articles on the site which I keep coming back to, and with every read it stays just as Damn Interesting.

For all the religion-bashers, I truly fail to comprehend your hatred and frustration. The energy which you display in insulting the faithful is worthy of a better cause. As someone else pointed out, "true believers know that religion and science do not clash".

“The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go” Galileo Galilei


andybear
Posted 11 October 2009 at 06:15 pm

Now that's damn mind-blowing.


angryratman
Posted 09 December 2009 at 08:01 am

I first heard about this at University. Was damn interesting then. It was nice to refresh my memory.


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